Morrissey – You Are The Quarry

Music Reviews Morrissey
Morrissey – You Are The Quarry

Unless you’re a sullen suburban teen of a very particular stripe, or one of his unshakeable Latino fans, you gave up on Morrissey ages ago. You sold back your copy of 1995’s Southpaw Grammar faster than R.E.M.’s Monster, and didn’t even sample its 1997 follow-up, Maladjusted. But during his seven-year silence, you’ve missed the old codger. The more he ignores you, the closer you get to him. Alone at night, you pop on Viva Hate or Vauxhall And I, sighing quietly, “Wherefore art thou, Steven Patrick Morrissey?”

Sound familiar? Then you, my friend, You Are The Quarry.

When last we encountered the former Smiths singer, his prospects looked grim. In late 1996, a British judge had ruled against him, to the tune of £1.25 million, in a case filed by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, seeking performance royalties. The failure of Maladjusted left him sans record contract. He fled England, first for Ireland, and then the seclusion of the Hollywood hills, emerging only to tour infrequently.

But few have ever wrought such poetry from their misfortunes, real or perceived, as Morrissey. Thus, at 45, he rebounds from this bleak period with one of the strongest albums of his 22-year career. As he declares at one point, “I’ve had my face dragged in fifteen miles of shit, and I do not, and I do not, and I do not like it,” reiterating the phrase like a demented Dr. Seuss character, or an angry dog violently shaking a toy between its clenched teeth.

The disc opens with a powerful one-two combination. On “America Is Not The World,” he laments the shortcomings of his adopted home, “where the President is never black, female, or gay,” which, despite its tremendous appetites and ego, has won his adoration. Next up is the lead single, the equally uncompromising “Irish Blood, English Heart”: “I’ve been dreaming of a time when to be English is not to be baneful / To be standing by the flag not feeling shameful / Racist or partial.” While the mood of the former—set by producer Jerry Finn (Blink-182) and a band featuring longtime guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte—is expansive and dramatic, the latter gallops along like a classic U2 barnstormer, Morrissey’s delivery seductive, yet simmering with rage.

The next 10 cuts are almost uniformly as strong. The rousing “The First of the Gang to Die” suggests “The Last of the Famous International Playboys” after a few visits to the gym; “I Have Forgiven Jesus” should ring familiar to any individual who ever had to reconcile an incongruous lifestyle choice with a strict religious upbringing. The 47-minute set finds the singer in top form, floating into a falsetto that rivals Sparks’ Russell Mael on the plaintive “Come Back To Camden.”

You Are The Quarry isn’t perfect … just damn close. A couple poor-pitiful-me numbers could have been relegated to B-sides, and “Let Me Kiss You” is clunky in lyrical cadence and arrangement. Regardless, if initial sales figures are any indication (the album entered the U.S. charts at #11, the highest of any record in his career), “the good days, of the gold discs” that he skewers on the closing “You Know I Couldn’t Last” are back again—and well earned, at that.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin