I really like a proper sing-along album. Nothing beats the simple, straightforward campfire songs that come with a simple message; a love letter perhaps, or the righteous wrath of the protest singer. When you find yourself humming along, and not resenting yourself for it but actually enjoying the lyrics, you know you have found one of those proper albums. I like the simplicity of these songs. Morrissey is angry with America.
He misses his dear old London. He is lonely. He is fed up with critics and besides, this music business thing is just so damn tiring. He has a way with words, but there is nothing smugly smart about these lyrics, no secret passages or trap doors within them (unless, which is likely, I am the fool). In fact, the blunt US criticism of "America Is not the world" even sounds weirdly naive, like a child asking "why doesn't everybody just stop fighting and hug each other?". But this is what the world looks like to Morrissey, then, with a little gangster story added for a thrill.
"Hector was the first in the gang with a gun in his hand...". That's not Morrissey anymore, but me singing now, lines that I can't and won't shake from my head and that will surely be familiar to just about anybody very soon.
Why the rather bleak "Irish Blood, English Heart" and not "First of the Gang to Die", or some other song, was chosen as first single is a mystery. Judging from the lyrics (about how being proud of your country does not mean being racist) the issue might be to clear up the old absurd allegations, about Morrissey being racist, for good.
It is possible, I have found, to disregard the sporadic and ill fitting breakbeats which producer Jerry Finn has seen fit to "spice up" the album with, and just enjoy the sheer catchieness. No proper cook would treat a perfectly good meal the way Finn does, but his assignment is just an unfortunate consequence of Morrissey's positive change of mood. That difficult man, who never even bothered to answer his phone, suddenly shows up on the porch in his best suit, ringing the doorbell. He's even got flowers, a little garish to be sure, but with the best of intentions. Let's ask him in for a cuppa, shall we?