Morrissey: he’s up, he’s down; he’s in, he’s out; he’s Moz. The iconic singer has long been larger-than-life in his sound, influence, and personality. From his original heyday fronting England’s seminal Smiths to solo career, trials, tribulations and more, Moz has always been Moz. He seemed to have settled down at least somewhat by 2009’s Years of Refusal (QRO review), even putting out a b-sides record, Swords (QRO review), but all sorts of controversy, mostly self-inflicted, has surrounded his latest studio album, World Peace Is None of Your Business, unfortunately highlighting its preachy nature and obscuring its variety.
From the title track/opener on (and Moz hasn’t lost his ability to give great titles), World Peace sees Morrissey largely preach, but in different forms. “World Peace” and “I’m Not a Man” are sort of melodic spoken word numbers where he gives his views (“World Peace” is at least a sarcastic view from the side of the Establishment). Better are the flamenco-esque guitars (which show up elsewhere on the record) on “Earth Is the Loneliest Planet” – meanwhile, the actually Spanish-set “The Bullfighter Dies” is upbeat, though would be better if we didn’t know Moz was so serious about cheering said death.
But maybe Morrissey needs to be preachy to stand out? “Kiss Me a Lot” could have fit on any Morrissey record, and is a good Morrissey song, but likewise isn’t memorable for him. Most interesting in the styles on World Peace (which also includes acoustic “Smiler With a Knife” and natural “Oboe Concerto” close) is where he brings in some harsher guitars on “Neal Cassady Drops Dead” and “Istanbul”.
Hopefully the sonic styles, and not the verbal lectures, are what Morrissey takes from World Peace Is None of Your Business (when he isn’t cancelling shows, being mobbed by fans, etc.).