Album: Morrissey

You Are the Quarry, Attack
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The Independent Culture

If I were Morrissey, I think I might be a little more circumspect about recording a song called "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores" - particularly if the album on which it appeared was as underfunded with musical inspiration as the long-awaited You Are the Quarry.

If I were Morrissey, I think I might be a little more circumspect about recording a song called "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores" - particularly if the album on which it appeared was as underfunded with musical inspiration as the long-awaited You Are the Quarry.

This is Morrissey's first new work since 1997's Maladjusted, an album whose feeble puns ("Alma Matters", "Roy's Keen"), self-parodic misery and mechanical riffing suggested a talent in apparently terminal decline. You Are the Quarry simply confirms it: in almost every respect - subject matter, musical settings, language and, particularly, the seemingly oceanic self-pity in which the songs wallow - it could have been made the week after Maladjusted, so infinitesimal is his progress.

Morrissey's current Meltdown-assisted profile will probably ensure it doesn't disappear with quite the same dispatch as its predecessor, but even hardcore fans may baulk at this latest collection of self-serving spite and tired cliché. His costly brushes with m'learned friends clearly still rankle, judging by the frequent sideswipes at "evil legal eagles" and "accountants rampant". "They who wish to hurt you work within the law," he declaims in "The World is Full of Crashing Bores". Butwhat about the teenage hoods so devotedly hymned in "First of the Gang to Die", which adapts Morrissey's rough-boy infatuation to fit his burgeoning Hispanic-American fanbase? Don't they hurt people, too?

Morrissey is now, of course, almost a stateless person, although his seven years in Los Angeles don't appear to have brought any great insight into either his new homeland or his old one. The former is lazily taken to task in "America Is Not the World" with a series of routine critical clichés - Americans are fat pigs, they know nothing of the outside world, their leader is never black, gay or female, etc - punctuated by fulsome expressions of affection for the singer's adopted country. Equally confused and unoriginal is "Come Back to Camden", a compendium of threadbare London clichés (garrulous taxi-drivers, slate-grey Victorian skies, tea that tastes of the Thames) that is so hackneyed one can only conclude Morrissey is actually turning into an American.

Which would perhaps be for the best, judging by his raking-over of the tired old Union Jack controversy in "Irish Blood, English Heart", an account of Englishness somewhat weakened by Morrissey's misapprehension that the Royals hold Cromwell - the same one, you'll recall, who had Charles I's head chopped off - in high esteem. Alas, not only is he still fighting battles that everyone else has long ago forgotten, he's fighting them in almost identical terms, lyrically and musically, as he did a decade ago.

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