You Are The Quarry
As the 20th century wound down, Stephen Morrissey veered dangerously close to becoming anachronistic. Without a record label, victim to a flagging career aided by increasingly lackluster releases and mired in royalty lawsuits courtesy of his former Smiths bandmates (“the other two” as they’re so fondly called), all seemed lost for our favorite Manicunian icon.
But inspiration sometimes lays in the most peculiar of muses, for seven years later, Morrissey’s exodus to Los Angeles has provided him a breath of smoggy air and fresh motivation. With You Are the Quarry, the flinty voice we’ve known and loved is revitalized, along with technological touch-ups and a gleaming sound courtesy of producer Jerry Finn. As drum machine patters and wiry synths begin “America Is Not The World,” Morrissey soon marries the nouveau with the trademark strumming and plucking of longtime colleagues Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte. A love/hate homage to his current home, Morrissey expounds his political views (animal rights included) with passages like “the land of the free/ in a just and truthful way/ where the President is never black, female or gay/ and until that day/you’ve got nothing to say.”
Never hesitant to lay his agendas bare, each of the twelve tracks harbors such familiar Morrissey-ian themes as nationalism (on the amplified, instantly catchy “Irish Blood, English Heart”), fame (“The World is Full of Crashing Bores”) and most important, love (sung in numerous permutations here.) Perennially veiled in sexual ambiguity, Morrissey’s always allowed his faithful to interpret his lyrics for their own scenarios. As for the music itself, every song lends a lush atmosphere to Morrissey’s signature croon. Electric squelches, delayed guitar and strings create the perfect milieu on “All the Lazy Dykes,” while the grooving “I Like You” provokes spiraling textures and modest distortion. As the gorgeous, epic closer “You Know I Couldn’t Last” fades, one can only hope this excellent return is just the first act of Morrissey’s revival. With pompadour intact (if graying a bit), Morrissey’s shed his doubters and added sonic bollocks to the bravado on this, his most melodic effort to date.