Morrissey

World Peace Is None of Your Business

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Arriving on the heels of Autobiography, a 2013 memoir that reveled in the cadences of revelation without ever laying bare his soul, World Peace Is None of Your Business feels curiously bereft of Morrissey's lyrical elegance. This, like so many of Moz's moves, is certainly deliberate. There is a directness to the lyrics on World Peace Is None of Your Business that initially feels unsettling, contradicting Morrissey's long history of obfuscation and sly winks. Such broad strokes accentuate his political beliefs -- he has no desire to be part of the voting process, he stands firm on animal rights, he disdains conventional masculinity while still feeling a pull toward pugilism -- while dulling the edges of his typical wistfulness. Perhaps Morrissey decided to wield his words as blunt instruments to offset the wildly off-kilter music of World Peace. Coming after a decade of albums where Morrissey's consistency was almost a fault, the untidiness of World Peace feels rather thrilling, holding the attention even when the record doesn't necessarily work. Producer Joe Chiccarelli -- an alt-rock vet whose credits run from Oingo Boingo to Alanis Morissette and Café Tacuba -- gives the record a big, forceful sound that is occasionally too crisp (it's possible to see the digital guitar effects push into the red on "Neal Cassidy Drops Dead"), but he also allows Moz to indulge his every whim, whether it's the ominous, churning heavy rock of the title track and "Istanbul," or the flamenco flourishes of "Earth Is the Loneliest Planet" and "The Bullfighter Dies." Elsewhere, Morrissey sticks to some tried and true -- "Staircase at the University" hearkens back to Viva Hate -- but the album is characterized by its aural eccentricities, which infect even relatively staid pop songs like "Kiss Me a Lot." Such willful weirdness is oddly endearing even when it doesn't hold together, which it often doesn't; it'll develop a head of steam that quickly dissipates as it veers in another direction, playing almost like a series of conjoined EPs. Perhaps this doesn't add up to a record as forceful or coherent as either You Are the Quarry or Years of Refusal but that messiness is also its charm: Morrissey isn't living up to what he should do, he's doing whatever he wants to, whether it makes sense or not. That fearlessness may be reckless but it's also welcome.

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