Record Review - 3 July 01 2004

You Are the Quarry — Morrissey’s seventh solo outing, his first in equally as many years — finds the former Smiths frontman’s return riddled with sweet and salty tears. At first, this latest chapter in Morrissey’s legacy of breezy self-deprecation suggests that age may have hardened the emotional hooligan. But make no mistake, You Are the Quarry portrays Morrissey at his most pompous and tortured glory.

“America Is Not the World” and “Irish Blood, English Heart” open the recording by respectively poking fun at American excess and taking aim at the general malaise of the British working class. Kicking things off with such smart and politically minded sermons packs a punch. But Morrissey is happiest when carrying on about his own afflictions, and before long, it all drifts into fey and inward blubbery.

Later Morrissey outings, like 1995’s Southpaw Grammar and 1997’s Maladjusted, suffered from bearing the load of too much filler. With You Are the Quarry, songs like “I Have Forgiven Jesus” and “First of the Gang to Die” show a strength in songwriting that Morrissey hasn’t wielded since 1992’s Your Arsenal. But songs like “How Can Anyone Possibly Know How I Feel” and “All the Lazy Dykes” fade into the background without distinction. It’s uplifting to hear Morrissey still kicking around the gleefully grief-stricken style he perfected so many years ago, but staying tormented in this cruel world without becoming a bore just keeps getting harder.