Well, here is the last thing we expected, this late in the day – a decent Morrissey album.
Few spokesmen for a generation can have tumbled to Earth as pitifully as Steven Patrick Morrissey. Venerated in The Smiths for his sly poetry and acerbic lyrical insights, in recent years he has morphed into a crashing boor given to mounting a soapbox to make sensationalist proclamations to a rapidly diminishing audience.
His last few albums have largely been grim and gruelling affairs but gone this time are the ham-handed rockabilly and lumpen indie riffs that have marked the majority of his solo output since his severed alliance with Johnny Marr. Musically, World Peace is surprisingly varied and eclectic; lyrically, Morrissey is firing again.
The album opens with a didgeridoo solo and elsewhere there is febrile flamenco, the clicks of castanets, a flourish of mariachi guitar. Nor are these cosmetic accoutrements: they accompany some of the most plangent and chiming guitar riffs to emanate from this source in decades.
Lyrically, Morrissey is, as ever, alternately deadpan, prescient, preposterous, melodramatic and hilarious. The daft title track adopts the Russell Brand don't-vote-they-only-get-in agenda but Neal Cassady Drops Dead ("Allan Ginsberg's tears shampoo his beard") is vintage Morrissey: caustic, dry and slightly peculiar.
Amidst the dark humour and adroit wordplay, you are never far from a lyrical clunker on a Morrissey album, and I Am Not A Man states the bleedin' obvious in assuring us that he is not a real-ale-swigging, rugby-playing type, before lambasting oafish consumers of T-bone steaks who are effectively "wolfing down cancer of the prostate". Earth Is The Loneliest Planet proves he has never quite shaken off his inner Adrian Mole and borders on Morrissey self-parody, but does so with élan and charm.
The Bullfighter Dies ("Hooray! And nobody cries!") is superbly childish and petulant and gets away with it, while the odd death fantasy Smiler With Knife simply reminds us that Morrissey has always liked a bit of rough. Funniest of all is Kick The Bride Down The Aisle, a faux-misogynistic comedy turn laden with the dry bathos that is his stock in trade: "I know so much more than I'm willing to say/She just wants a slave."
Where Morrissey albums have long been a chore, reluctantly approached with hope far outweighing expectation, World Peace Is None Of Your Business is a lithe, layered delight that will repay repeat visits for years to come. It's great to have him back.