|Morrissey - You Are the Quarry|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 18 May 2004|
Morrissey’s unlikely success is a case study in the unexpected power of negative thinking. This master of mope has been exploring the low depths of his self-esteem with self-deprecatingly humorous songs for many years now, and You Are The Quarry is easily one of the better examples of this former Smiths leader’s entertainingly bad disposition.
Although not everything here is exemplary, there are nonetheless a few truly great Morrissey moments to behold. This album’s best song is also its second single, and is called “First of the Gang to Die.” Naturally, death is almost always at the doorstop of Morrissey’s most-realized songs, and this story about a Mexican gang member’s untimely demise is no exception to the rule. Morrissey, surprisingly, has a large outlaw audience, and this song reveals a keen insight into his fans’ uniquely dangerous subculture. It’s built upon a guitar-based rhythm, and finds the singer digging deeply into its melodic possibilities.
Morrissey also shows off his sometimes underrated singing voice on this release -- especially with the high notes he reaches for with “Come Back To Camden,” which is a nostalgic ballad. Lyrically, Morrissey is always at his best whenever he takes on a Charlie Brown-esque “Why me?” persona. This personality type is at the forefront of “I Have Forgiven Jesus,” which is not nearly as blasphemous as its title makes it sound. Instead, it’s a lyric about a person who was born with much love to give, yet cannot find a willing recipient for such willing affection. This same romantic frustration also drives “Let Me Kiss You.”
Although Morrissey’s favorite subject matter has always been (surprise, surprise) Morrissey himself, a few of these tracks take on cultural and political topics, which reach far beyond the artist’s own psyche. “America Is Not the World,” for instance, criticizes the rampant ethnocentrism of this powerful nation, whereas “Irish Blood, English Heart” struggles with Morrissey’s dilemma of being an Englishman of Irish descent, which is a common issue for many citizens back in his homeland.
It’s hard to pinpoint just one overriding musical style driving this album: it rocks, but it doesn’t rock hard, and it has soft spots, yet it’s never overly mushy. It does, however, completely sidestep any and all references to rockabilly, which has been one of the primary musical bedrocks of Morrissey’s solo sound.
The best news of all is that Morrissey has aged particularly well. When you stop to consider all of the bad haircut bands and one-hit-wonders from the ‘80s that have been all but forgotten, Morrissey is one of the few relevant leftovers from this era. It’s strangely comforting to realize that this unique performer is still finding dark clouds inside the silver linings.