Quiz: Morrissey’s endless, withering disdain for
cultural hypocrisy might get wearisome if not for A) his equally-relentless
tenderness, B) his Wildean wit, C) the truth of his observations. Yes, it’s D)
all of the above.
“Society’s hell,” he reminds us near the start of
his latest offering, “you need me just like I need you.” We do, and
timing couldn’t be better. “Stop watching the news!” he says. “Teach
your kids to recognize and despise all the propaganda/Filtered down by the
dead echelon’s mainstream media.” Punchlines fly: Lines like “I’ve
dined with every bogus music mogul” (“Home Is a Question Mark”)
and “I’m not my type, but I love my bed” (“Spent the Day in Bed”)
are dusted with existential malaise.
“I Bury the Living,” a ruthless
conjuring of a soldier in first person, is an unfair stereotype, true, but also
empathetic, class-conscious and even funny, albeit painfully. He draws a
scene set against Arab Spring that echoes all of humanity’s sad history: “They
tried to wipe us clean off the map/And I just want my face in your lap.” The
backup ain’t the Smiths, but its solid and campy, adding its own wit.
philosophical alt-rock standup goes, the man is still peerless.