You Are The Quarry
By: Eric Greenwood
The seven year stretch between Morrissey's last album, 1997's nice enough but forgettable Maladjusted, and his triumphant return, 2004's You Are The Quarry, has turned the former Smiths frontman into a bit of an underdog. Based on the unprecedented hoopla surrounding his latest release, the public is clearly nostalgic for the master of self-deprecating, maudlin pop. Or, if you want to blame Lollapalooza's cancellation on his headlining slot, then perhaps it's only a niche of the public that misses him… The blue states would be my guess.
Morrissey spent most of the time between albums hanging out (morosely, of course) in sunny Los Angeles without a major record deal (but most assuredly with a gaggle of shirtless rockabilly boys in tow). It wasn't until last year that he convinced Sanctuary Records to reignite the Attack subsidiary, known for its classic reggae releases in the 1970's. Yes, Morrissey is on a reggae label.
You Are The Quarry is Morrissey's finest offering in a decade both lyrically and musically. Having never shied away from controversial topics, Morrissey takes his politics center stage on the rollicking first single, "Irish Blood, English Heart", easily Morrissey's hardest rocking single ever. And this batch of lyrics proves his tongue as sharp as ever: "I’ve been dreaming of a time when/The English are sick to death of Labour, And Tories/And spit upon the name Oliver Cromwell/And denounce this royal line that still salute him/And will salute him forever."
Musically, Morrissey doesn't stray far from familiarity or safety. Here, the harder edge of Your Arsenal is peppered with the odd electronic blip without a trace of the unfortunate prog-rock tendencies of 1995's Southpaw Grammar. Morrissey's dejected crooning sounds absolutely fiery. Morrissey is pissed, albeit in his inimitably fey and condescending way, but pissed all the same.
America is a clear target of his emasculated pen on the opener, "America Is Not The World." We're called "fat pigs" and derided for our obsession with "hamburgers." Zing! Jesus even takes a disdainful tongue-lashing: "For all the desire, you placed in me when there’s nothing I can do with this desire." On the cheekily titled "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores", Morrissey assures us he is not one, and then proves it with a song called "All The Lazy Dykes", which contains the following juicy couplet: "All the lazy dykes/Cross armed at the palms/Then legs astride their bikes/ Indigo burns on their arms."
Though, it may all be a bunch of hot air, Morrissey pleads his case with unique aplomb. Comparatively, this doesn't even claw at the door of any Smiths album, but that's not even a realistic expectation. I'm just relieved he hasn't forgotten how to write a decent song. One might say that Morrissey's lengthy exile from the music business only served to show how much it missed him. And with all the sad, sappy emo bands trying to cop his style, it's time about time he reclaimed his throne.