I remember that I used to hear to The Smiths a lot, because my oldest sister was (and still is) a big fan (So am I, for that matter). She also loves Moz’s Viva Hate, but then, Bona Drag and Kill Uncle disappointed her a lot, and she dropped Morrissey.
Not that I did care too much about Moz’s music at the time. Even when I loved “Tomorrow” and “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” (which sounded a bit in my country), and he was one of my teenage years’ “Plutonic lovers” (my girlfriends and I remember between laughs when I used to say that “If he was bisexual, he would be the only one I would sleep with”). I also really loved his voice; soft and crooning, yet really passionate.
The fact is that Morrissey’s complex and misterious persona has fascinated me always. His crises, his misterious sexuality (certainly not straight but … Is he gay or bisexual? — Unlike REM’s Michael Stipe, he doesn’t really say — Is he really celibate, or that’s just a lie to attract attention?), and his cynic sense of humour, among other things, make Morrissey the type of character that would appear in some of my favorite books and/or movies, or I, as a writer, I wish I would cteate for a book of mine before he actually existed.
Besides, echoes of his influence are listened in some of my favorite artists and groups: Radiohead, Tori Amos, Cat Power, Belle and Sebastian, Elliott Smith, Happy Rhodes, and, more recently, Joseph Arthur, are among them.
Well, this year I decided to give the man a chance, to see how he did on me with his music. I decided not to begin with Viva Hate, because I already knew that album from head to toe. I did not want to begin “Maladjusted” either, due to mixed reviews. So, my decision was between Vauxhal and I and Your Arsenal. Well, I finally picked this one. And I must say I am not disappointed at all.
Morrissey’s voice is still that crooning, passionate voice that compells one to feel his feelings as if they were one’s own. And the music has nothing to envy to Viva Hate’s. Moz got a brilliant music composer this time. A lot of music that might echo The Smiths is not quite absent here (just take a listen to “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful” or “The National Front Disco”). In this last song, some of Moz’s best vocal capabilities I’ve heard so far are shown here.
Also, my favorite track “Tomorrow, kind of recalled me “The Queen is Dead,” both due to Morrissey’s way to sing and its poignant melodies. But its lyrics were one of the most moving lyrics I have ever listened; I would tell I love and put my arms around someone I love if he or she would sing that song (ha ha ha). The heartbreaking “Seasick, Yet Still Docked” is a beautiful song that could easily sound at home on The Cure’s Bloodflowers or on Radiohead’s last two records. “Glamorous Glue” is a wise title to that song; it has a very glam, very early-Bowie feeling. And “Certain People I Know” is, along with Richard Ashcroft’s “A Song For The Lovers” the guilty pleasure of this openly country-hater reviewer.
Another strong point: the bass. OK, Gary Day is not like Les Claypool (Primus), Mark Sandman (Morphine), or Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel). But in certain songs, I think he plays his instrument in a very catchy way.
Overall, Morrissey has won in me a fan (probably the one he has lost in my sister) who, however, will be very objective with his weakest points. But overall, this record could be considered the one that helped Brit-pop be what it has been, in my humble opinion.
Written by Pekky Marquez.