You don’t really know when it exactly started. Maybe with David Tseng. It was back in July 2011 when he was kicked out of a MORRISSEY show in Copenhagen after flying 5000 miles from Los Angeles to visit it. Tseng manages Morrissey-Solo.com, probably the most popular and best updated fanpage in the World Wide Web considering the past, present and future work of the former SMITHS-frontman. According to the artist Tseng wasn’t welcome because of the mean comments that are posted on a regular basis at this page. Comments that didn’t came from Tseng himself but from the numerous MORRISSEY fans all over the world, ‘though a lot of them remained anonymous and were probably just a bunch of trolling weirdos. But it’s a typical situation where the influential singer went too far and made a few of his fan heads shake.
Numerous situations have occurred the past five years since MORRISSEY released his last album Years Of Refusal. Ranging from the animal fights campagne, in which he compared killing animals to the holocaust or – even worse – the Amok Run of Oslo in 2011 with the daily routine at a McDonalds restaurant. Yes, a few of these things might have been ripped out of context but they were true. His feud with the British royals remains the funny bit in it. But things like ‘Fuck Morrissey-solo.com’-shirts felt a bit like childish and somehow irrational actions by a man in his early fifties who usually preaches tolerance.
MORRISSEY has always been a person with strong opinions, pride and a certain attitude. It’s what makes him loved all over the world by Millions of fans from different generations. He has been one of pop music’s most honest artists of the past thirty years, a role model and also in many ways a living legend. But these past years have been quite difficult for the ‘boy with a thorn in his side.’ It’s not just about his words and behaviour but also about the music itself. It took five years for the new LP World Peace Is None Of Your Business to take shape. An unnecessary long break since the artist more or less went on tour every year, while also playing a lot of new songs (which didn’t end up on the new record). He changed his management more than once, released countless reissues and a lot of old music in general. Another best-of, a b-sides collection, a lot of reprinted old 7-Inch-singles and so on. It’s kind of ironic when you listen to the 1987 SMITHS classic Paint a Vulgar Picture in which the singer despised all these release methods. He could’ve released new music by his own and people would have bought it. Hell yes, he could have also started a crowdfunding campaign or could have done a RADIOHEAD-like stunt. But MORRISSEY likes it old-fashioned. He wants a label that takes care of everything. The ‘godfather of indie music’ didn’t want to go fully independent.
On top of it all there were countless problems with his health. The singer cancelled far too many gigs, apologized a dozen times to his fans, rescheduled dates, only to cancel a few of them later. In the end MORRISSEY even quoted his doctor who more or less advised him to simply retire. As this article is published MORRISSEY is still recovering from another illness as he just cancelled his US tour. It was supposed to be the start of a glorious – more or less – comeback with the new album. But although World Peace Is None Of Your Business marks a return to musical form the struggle of one of Britain’s greatest performers continues. This almost feels like the comeback story of an old man who somehow robs himself away of the opportunity to retire whilst potentially ruining his legacy, health and reputation during his final years. MORRISSEY turned 55 in May, an age which he once named ‘perfect for retirement’ a few years back. Still, he’s here but does the world still need him?
The past years might remind a few fans of the previous low-point phase of the singer in the late 90s. After a few mediocre records, especially the 1997 Maladjusted, the singer was out of a record deal for almost seven years while also becoming musically irrelevant in a world dominated by Britpop, rap and bubblegum pop. 2004’s You Are The Quarry marked the triumphant return to the top of the game as the ‘Mozfather’ arrived just in time for new British indie wave. His music and his legacy were suddenly rediscovered and back on an all-time high. The 00s marked the big comeback of MORRISSEY and it was a well deserved one. But now, ten years later, things feel a bit different. World Peace Is None Of Your Business is not You Are The Quarry and British guitar indie music is currently on a constant low. The saviour returns but do his followers even want to get saved anymore?
MORRISSEY’s tenth studio album, released by Harvest Records, was produced by Joe Chiccarelli and recorded in France. And one thing remains after the five-year-long-break – a MORRISSEY record is still a MORRISSEY record. Gentle pop melodies, packed in a sound scheme between indie and alternative rock. It’s never too edgy and always keeps the singer as the main protagonist. While Years Of Refusal was a surprisingly rough rocking record, World Peace Is None Of Your Business brings back a certain variety into the music of MORRISSEY. It’s like a diversified collage of all the musical aspects you love (or maybe hate) about the charismatic artist.
There’s a certain Mediterranean flair that wafts through the album and perfectly goes hand in hand with the artist’s love for big gestures. The title-track is a stylish and sarcastic rant against modern day politics while Istanbul declares its love for the Turkish city. Tracks like The Bullfighter Dies and Earth Is The Loneliest Planet come with gently played acoustic guitars, sweet trumpets or easy going accordions. Having a protest song against bullfighting sound like a sweet summer melody – that’s as MORRISSEY as it gets. The artists embraces his own past. The sweet Staircase At The University, a song against academic pressure to perform, could have also been on 1988’s debut Viva Hate. The catchy songs Kiss Me A Lot and Kick The Bride Down The Aisle see the singer return to its form of the 00s.
The surprisingly high quality of World Peace Is None Of Your Business almost feels a bit like MORRISSEY needed the time off to return to full strength. He sounds way more relaxed and, at least for his standards, quite adventurous. Judging only from the record it looks like there’s still fire within the veins of the 55-year old troublemaker. The music is tender and diversified, his lyrics are sharp and well chosen although his repertoire of themes became somehow predictable by now. It’s not a comeback with a big bang but one with substance and grace.
But still the question remains. Yes, of course, MORRISSEY is still needed. After all he’s an endangered species, a true original and a living legend. And of course, he likes to offend people from time to time, just to keep the spark alive. You may shake your head because of all the cringe-worthy things but you won’t change this man. Still he needs to be careful about his current state. MORRISSEY is a person with, sometimes, limited empathy who comes from a different period of time. He’s a monument of his own past, shining bright enough to maintain his presence in the present. But he should take care of everything. ‘But the song that you just sang / It sounds exactly like the last one’ and ‘You silly old man, you’re making a fool of yourself’ he sang back in 1990s Get Off The Stage. In 2014 the irony caught a bit up with MORRISSEY and so did his own integrity. When someone sets the standards as high as he did facing the consequences doesn’t get easier. The future won’t be easy for the ‘Mozfather.’ But that’s the environment he has always felt most comfortable in.
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