After a few years of questionable comments in the media, refusing to play in certain countries, and cancelling so many shows that he has almost reached a new plane of self-parody, Morrissey has returned with an album’s worth of music. World Peace Is None Of Your Business is his 10th solo studio album, and will be released on July 15th.
The opening title track, which doubles as the lead single, is a classic slice of Moz’s sardonic, anti-establishment wit. He sings “world peace is none of your business / you must not temper with arrangements / work hard and sweetly pay your taxes, never asking what for”. Police stun you with stun guns and tasers, and you are a fool. The rich get richer, and the poor stay poor. Structurally speaking, it’s unusual as a single. Because the chorus is not immediately discernible, “World Peace” is less about the hook and more about the lyrics, which transform from the non-specific to real sentiments about Egypt and Ukraine. To further the point, even the music video features Morrissey performing the song in spoken word (next to Nancy Sinatra, no less). It’s a far cry from the riff-heavy “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris”, from 2009’s Years Of Refusal. It’s a good start to the album, a fine single, and may give a ray of hope to anyone who has lost faith in Moz’s recent work.
Unfortunately, it is hard to separate Morrissey as an entity from Morrissey as a songwriter. Unrepeatable remarks about the Norway massacre and animal cruelty in China have seen him make his bed and lie in it. Songs which do rely on big choruses are mostly non-successes. Take the second single, “Istanbul”, which rests on a heavy-handed blues rock line from longtime collaborator/cowriter Boz Boorer. It’s a riff that has been used over and over again in popular music, and Boorer does nothing to renew our faith in it. When the vaguely eastern sounding guitar solo enters, it’s hard not to cringe. On “Istanbul”, it is Morrissey that stands out above the music, with an unconventional melody that is the glue holding this otherwise tired song together.
For this reason, it could be argued that, with a new team of collaborators and better self-censoring mechanisms, Morrissey could make a ‘real’ comeback instead of relying on the same formulaic approach to each album. World Peace is not that comeback.