Twenty-seven years ago, Morrissey sang, “If you think peace is a common goal, that goes to show how little you know,” in The Death of a Disco Dancer from The Smiths’ final studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come.
And if you have sort of missed that guy, you need look no further than the title of his 10th solo album, World Peace is None of Your Business, to know he’s back, at least for one more album.
The album could almost be more aptly described as a follow up to his 2013 bridge-torching memoir Autobiography as any of his solo albums, which maintained his dark viewpoint but lacked some of the edge of his Smiths-era work.
This album brings back the guy that said by rights Sweetness should be bludgeoned in her bed (joking!), declared England was his and would spit in your eye if you asked why and wished you an unhappy birthday, “because you’re evil, and you lie, and if you should die, I may feel slightly sad, but I won’t cry.”
Moz and his band had a point of view. And that is once again on full display in this album that comes out shortly after Morrissey turned 55, the age at which he said he would likely retire from performing.
While we always got the impression that Morrissey was often just trying to be provocative and funny in his Smiths days, sometimes there were points to be made through the darkness, and there are now. Staircase at the University takes on academic expectations, The Bullfighter Dies derides animal cruelty, I’m Not a Man shreds macho culture, and the title track chastises those who think their voice stands a chance against the military industrial complex.
Then there’s the finale, Oboe Concerto, sending up the old-guy rocker whose friends are falling away. Morrissey was never subtle, even with himself.
To his credit, World Peace sounds far from Morrissey just trying to reclaim his youth. The lyrical voice is the same, but the viewpoint is more mature. And the music is quite a bit more lush and diverse, though sometimes sloppily so. And as acidic as The Smiths’ lyrics were, they were more often than not sung in Morrissey’s lovely tenor, which has aged very well.
If you always found the mopey act of The Smiths and their contemporaries such as The Cure and Bauhaus trying, there is no need to bother with this album. But if Meat is Murder and The Queen is Dead are still in regular rotation on your soundtrack, you might like hearing this guy at least one more time.