Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Viva Meh: On Morrissey's Second Sustained Battle With Mediocrity

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 1:26 PM

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But it’s 2013, and it’s been a terrible year for Morrissey. Tour cancellations, personal and family illness, political gaffs. Heavy, unrelenting, and muscular songwriting really brought Morrissey to something new on 2009’s Years of Refusal, but the loss of Alain Whyte as a live member of the band hasn’t been without its pitfalls. He’s overcompensating now, as evinced in the beyond mediocre tracks of 2011: “People Are The Same Everywhere,” “Action is my Middle Name,” and “The Kid’s a Looker.” “Action” is too much like “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” and “People” is just pure laziness. And, as far as releases go, it’s patronizing, almost insulting: two greatest hits collections and an overpriced reissue of Kill Uncle, smattered with deluxe singles that barely make up for how middling these new songs are. Morrissey, are you even trying?

I expect that the next Morrissey record will garner the same kind of reputation that Southpaw and Maladjusted have. Us fans will find kernels of classic Morrissey inside of them, but I’m predicting he’s going to retreat into hiatus after its release, if he releases anything at all. I think the saddest thing about all of this is how tangible Morrissey’s apathy is in 2013. He’s apathetic about being, well, Morrissey, and not in his signature camped up way. He’s legitimately tired of being himself. And I don’t blame him: the recording business that Morrissey once helped rule has completely changed. Amanda Palmer’s advice to Morrissey to crowdfund his next effort was probably the best advice he’s gotten in the last three years. But Morrissey would never do something like that. He’s too stubborn. But he’s got the right to be. He’s Morrissey.

I’m not even sure that Morrissey’s next effort will be pop music. Fans have been anxiously awaiting any news on the release of Morrissey’s autobiography, which has been delayed since 2012. And it hasn’t been good news for us fans lately: “The future is suddenly absent,” Morrissey wrote on True to You, “...and the only sensible solution seems to be the art of doing nothing.” This mid-career slump is a bit worse than his first. Morrissey had a safety net. He had a record label, he was still capable of writing those heartrending ballads and wry anthems, and he was a younger man. But I know, after he falls, he’s going to come out with something that will totally come from left field, and we’re going to celebrate Morrissey for it, as we did in 2004.

So on the 29th, I’m going to be disappointed to hear Morrissey give up on singing “Everyday is Like Sunday.” I’m going to be disappointed about how blocky and careless his band plays “Still Ill.” But will I lose my shit during “Alma Matters”" and “Maladjusted?” Fuck yes. They’re his best worst songs. They are, paradoxically, a promise of Morrissey trying something radically different once he’s out of his slump. He might be open to letting his fans in a bit more by letting us participate in his life. Maybe he’ll take a more gentler route musically. Maybe that book will come out. Either way, we all eagerly and anxiously await new Morrissey. We love you. But can you stop wearing two watches?

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