Morrissey: the pope of mope loses his mojo

On World Peace is None of Your Business, Mozzer looks beyond his own navel – and the result is disastrous.

Christian Butler

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Here’s something shocking – Morrissey’s new album suffers from being insufficiently self-indulgent. Yes, on the maladjusted Mancunian’s first album in five years he doesn’t even have the decency to parody himself, as he has for most of the past 10 years.

The problem with World Peace is None of Your Business, other than its lack of either wit or pathos, is Mozzer’s concentration on matters external to himself. For a man whose music once seemed so personal and, by connection, so intrinsically British, the so-called pope of mope has become bizarrely obsessed with name-checking as many cities and countries as possible – from Istanbul to Brazil. On a handful of songs, the planet as a whole is his subject.

Rather than offering kitchen-sink realism or mournful reflections on his own mental state, he adopts the role of an omniscient narrator, looking down on all the poor souls of the world in one boorish sweep. Maybe after penning his infamous Autobiography last year he’s sick of writing about number one. However, it seems nearer to the truth that he’s sick of writing itself – the songs rarely extend in scope beyond their title. For example, in ‘The Bullfighter Dies’, the titular event occurs, he reels off the names of six Spanish cities, he croons ‘nobody cries because we want the bull to survive’ a few times… and that’s it. The insightful details and the well-chosen phrases that made his writing so special are nowhere to be seen.

To take a pause from slagging off the lyrics, the music deserves to be declared abysmal, and then instantly forgotten. In fact, the music is so dire that Morrissey chose to promote the album with videos of him performing spoken-word versions of some of the songs. Yes – music videos without any music! Boston-based producer Joe Chiccarelli is behind the album’s abhorrent production. In a pathetic attempt to give some variety to Morrissey’s typical guitar-rock, he plonks long chunks of ‘found sound’ on to the beginning of many of the tracks. And I don’t mean 10 seconds of ‘Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty’ – one track’s introduction consists of a minute-and-a-half of glass harmonica solo.

In Morrissey’s pretentious attempt to report on tragi-comic incidents on a global scale, he has created an album that seldom gives away the persona that once seemed so open and sensitive. The sage of Salford has become as emotive as a satnav.

Christian Butler is a writer and musician based in London.

World Peace is None of Your Business is out now. Watch the video for ‘Earth is the Loneliest Planet’:

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