Music Reviews
You Are The Quarry

Morrissey You Are The Quarry

(Attack / Sanctuary) Rating - 8/10

Seven years is a long time in music. Most bands manage a career that long, the Smiths amongst them. Yet it's been a spell which has seen in some ways the career stock of this particular cultural icon rise. The story of the character assassination job the NME worked in the early 90s doesn't need to be repeated here, and in any case it's pretty certain he couldn't care less, what with becoming a major star in America.

Which is where we start: 'America, your head's too big' are the first lyrics from a 21st century record by Morrissey. He follows it up by pretty much listing all his complaints with his new adopted homeland, before admitting he loves the place anyway. Aww. It's not the strongest opener you could wish for, in truth the album doesn't take off until recent single Irish Blood, English Heart's guitars kick into the chorus and we're told 'I've been dreaming of a time when to be English is not to be painful'. It's a return to the familiar theme which has been there for over 20 years (from Still Ill's 'England is mine, and it owes me a living'), the fascination with all things English is easily open to misinterpretation, but here it's the fuel behind the best Morrissey single in a very long time.

Time has been kind in many ways: For one the voice is stronger than it's ever been and, if nothing else, You Are The Quarry is definitely the album on which Morrissey sounds his very best. Secondly, a whole generation of music fans has passed since the controversies of the past, meaning that a whole new set of eager listeners, fed on the Smiths back catalogue, are out there wanting new material. Titular wise, he doesn't disappoint: The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores, I Have Forgiven Jesus, How Could Anyone Know How I Possibly Feel... classic Morrissey titles one and all. Finally, as the cover shows, he still looks fantastic. The cover pictures him as iconic as ever armed with a Tommy Gun and sharp pin strip suit, showing just why lines of heterosexual men are happy to throw themselves at his feet in total adoration.

But, and here's the catch, at times the arrangements just don't cut it. While Come Back To Camden pushes to sound epic, it struggles through the last of its four minutes to remain interesting and it's a problem faced by several other numbers. Then again, The First Of The Gang To Die, an apparent nod to his loyal following amongst the Californian Mexican community sounds just amazing. 'Such a silly boy' Morrissey laments of the unfortunate Hector of whom the song chronicles. Placed in the middle of the album, it lifts matters to a higher plain and demands repeating listening.

Producer Jerry Finn has presumably been brought in to add a contemporary feel, having worked with Blink 182 and Green Day, which to his credit he has done without making the album sound like his previous clients. You Are The Quarry is certainly not an album by a man looking for relive past glories. The electronic bleeps playing throughout I Like You provide an interesting twist - the song isn't half bad either, providing a more upbeat moment on an album that by and large keeps its tempo on the slow side of things.

As pointed out above, this album is going to sell. Youthful teenagers want to hear more from the guy who sang about criminally vulgar shyness and Buddhist Monks contemplating mass murder while the oldsters just want to see what Moz has to say today. Either way, You Are The Quarry is an album more than worthy of investigation, one that could well kick his career firmly back to where it was in 1988. I'm awarding this score partly according to relativity - Franz Ferdinand's album scored 7/10, this album just about manages to be better, therefore: 8/10.