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Reviews 22/05/2004

Album Of The Week: Morrissey

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by Adam (Toronto, Canada) -Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop.

Morrissey - You Are The Quarry
Release Date: 10 May, 2004

It's 20 years on, and Morrissey is still the thinking man's singer/songwriter. "You are the Quarry," released on the newly resuscitated Attack Records label, is a collection of gems. From the self-depreciating "I have Forgiven Jesus" and the anthemic first single "Irish Blood, English Heart," to the lacerating wit of "The World is Full of Crashing Bores" and violent romanticism of "The First of the Gang to Die," Morrissey is in top form.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, his soothing voice has never sounded more natural. And the music is rife with emotion; pure sonic genius. The lads are spot on!
The sound of the album is a cross between "Kill Uncle" and "Vaxhaul and I". I have not heard "southpaw grammer", but I think I am going to pick that up. "you are the quarry" is a beautiful album.

Considering we've waited over 7 years for another Morrissey album, this release may seem a bit of a letdown for some, as Morrissey teeters between the Morrissey of old (Vauxhal and I) and his Maladjusted/Southpaw Grammar period. He is back to save the world from the rnb/pop and Reality TV stupidity. Morrissey has said that this is arguably the best album he's ever made. After having it on "ever-play" since its release a few days ago, I must say that Morrissey is absolutely right.

A wonderful blend of his obligatory down-trodden hymns and political hazings coupled with some pop-ish gems such as "Firsts of the Gang to Die" and "IBEH" make this one of the greatest albums of the past decade.
Always blazing his own path, Morrissey's songwriting collaboration with Alain Whyte has proved to be a match made in heaven - while Johnny Marr is wonderful in his own regard, he must be writhing with jealousy! Seven years is a long time, but this album makes the wait well worth it.

The album is, by and large, a success, though certainly not groundbreaking or a bold new venture on his part. Which may be just as well, considering that Maladjusted and Southpaw Grammar, while certainly admirable and definite attempts to change his sound, cost him his record deal and more than a few fans. On You Are the Quarry, his voice has never sounded better, and there are some future classics here every bit as good as his best material (Irish Blood, English Heart, and First of the Gang to Die, for example).
And that is the great paradox that is Morrissey. It is a fine tightrope walk for any artist to successfully give the people what they want without sounding like dated rehash and still manage to progress as an artist with some sonic experimentation without alienating fans. You Are the Quarry feels like a bit of a holding pattern rather than any bold new artistic statement, though far from sounding nostalgic or dated?

Reviewing the album on the day it comes out; somewhat premature? Maybe, but having listened to it five times through, and what with the most of the songs having been leaked weeks ago, not to mention the fact that the best of them were played on the tour more than a year ago, I feel like I've been living with this album for quite some time.

Overall: the sound is definitley new, well represented by the songs on the first single. Morrissey's voice is spectacular, radiating confidence, to the actual detriment of some of the more melanchly songs. The album is just so forceful that it -demands attention- it's difficult to sort of sit back and try to make up your mind about it, be reserved and cynical and detached. New musical styles have been attempted, as you can tell from the very beginning with the heavy drums on 'America is Not the World;' in places it's succesful, in places not so much, but in any case it's refreshing. The tone, lighter in places but on the whole very venemous and uncompromising, irriated me at first, but it's treated with humor in some of the songs, and really, if you think about it, he's justified in a lot of the things he says. A few of the highlights:

America is not the world - his lyrics convey a longing for a better more genuine America, a country he loves but expects more from.

Irish blood, English heart - it is the first single, he wants to feel proud of his English identity, but sees it impossible with the Tories, labor and royal line that salutes Oliver Cromwell. The lyrics show a brutal honesty of how he sees things, "the world is full of crashing bores", so be on the lookout!

I like you - the people who meet his approval are in the minority and in "How can anybody possible know how I feel", if someone loves him they must be insane. So he pokes fun at himself. The electronic warbles seem unnecesary, but this turned out to be a very beautiful song, completley (almost) eschewing the bitter tone of the rest, with a lyric that may seem simple but is actually one of the most effective.

I Have Forgiven Jesus - This is an unexpected favorite; I love the sort of drawling organ music, and it's very heartfelt. Not an attack on organized religion, as some people seem to think, but one of the old-fashioned introspective, Smiths-type songs, in fact the title is almost extraneous. Morrissey expresses the challenges he faces with Christianity. All in all this album is witty, bold and candid of the way he thinks and makes no apologies for it. He is sounding better than ever, this may be his best work since "Your Arsenal" and I highly for hearing, it is refreshing and a pure delight to listen to!

IĒm Not Sorry - I love this lyric; it has to be one of his best. A very representatonal song for the album, too, acknowledging the trappings of his old persona but reflecting a harder, sharper attitude; the title really says it all.

The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores - I wasn't so thrilled with this song when it was played live, some of the lyrics seemed a bit over-the-top ("You don't understand! You don't understand!"), but it's sung with incredible sincerity, one of the most personal and believable on the album.

First Of The Gang To Die - This song is just so, so good. I was impressed with the live version, but with every listen I just like it better and better; it may well be the best song of his solo career so far, beating out even such classics as 'Suedehead' and 'Now My Heart is Full.'

If you've never had the opportunity to listen to Morrissey, this is a great place to start. Full of fierce wit, sensitivity, and intelligence, Morrissey sings about what matters to him, not about the blathering nonsense found in most popular music. The music is as good as any solo album he's ever done. I won't spoil the cd for you by quoting a bunch of the lyrics. But let me say that they are constantly entertaining and thought-provoking.

It seems that 7 years of separation from the industry has brought back the inspiration of the 80's. "You Are the Quarry" has that "magic". Its mixture of curious lyrics and tickling melodies only gets better the more you listen. Morrissey's voice somehow sounds better than ever; his smooth vibrato delicately soothes the soul and balms ones mental wounds.
The poetry in lyrics will inspire a whole new generation. His lyrics are still focused on griping about anything and everything, from this country to his current place of residence in the States, and the industry that has afforded him a comfortable lifestyle.
Bitter truths, lush musical landscapes and a sparkling production by Jerry Finn combine to create a provocative musical journey that should not be missed by anyone. In today's bland, thoughtless, pre-processed music scene, 'You Are The Quarry' fills the void!

This album is what all Morrissey fans have been waiting a long time for. A return to form, yes, although its pretty much follows the same formula, crystal clear lyrics and neat production and good musicians grinding out the catchy hooks. All in all a very good album with probably ten out of twelve great tracks and a couple of 'b' side filler tracks.

Rating: 6/10

1. America Is Not The World (7/10)
2. Irish Blood, English Heart (9/10, first single)
3. I Have Forgiven Jesus (9/10)
4. Come Back To Camden (4/10)
5. IĒm Not Sorry (6/10)
6. The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores (5/10)
7. How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel (6/10)
8. First Of The Gang To Die (4/10)
9. Let Me Kiss You (5/10)
10. All The Lazy Dykes (5/10)
11. I Like You (8/10)
12. You Know I CouldnĒt Last (6/10)

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