If Vauxhall and I represented a more mature Morrissey, Southpaw Grammar superficially presents a more rough and tumble version of the singer. As his previous single, "Boxers," indicated, Morrissey's fascination with boxing and violence has reached full fruition. The music appropriately reflects this, with growling, distorted guitars and martial rhythms. But Southpaw Grammar doesn't rock as hard or with as much style as the rockabilly-inflected Your Arsenal -- instead, it's his art rock album, complete with strings, drum solos, and two ten-minute songs. Of these, the winding, menacing "The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils" works the best, and it represents a significant change in Morrissey's outlook; instead of the children being outsiders, "the teachers" are. Throughout Southpaw Grammar, the privileged are oppressed by their fortunes, while working-class toughs are celebrated for their violence. However, there is no cohesive glue to the record. "The Teachers" uses its 11 minutes effectively, but "Southpaw" is merely ponderous. "Reader Meet Author" and "Dangenham Dave" are classic three-minute pop songs, but "Do Your Best and Don't Worry" is strictly by the books. Nevertheless, there is plenty of enjoyable music on the record, even if the concept is flawed.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine