Morrissey: Maladjusted

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Morrissey

Album: Maladjusted
Label: Mercury
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Morrissey

Album: Maladjusted
Label: Mercury

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Despite predictions to the contrary, it was eccentric lead singer Morrissey rather than brilliant guitarist Johnny Marr who found success following the breakup of The Smiths in 1987, and for a few years the world seemed to be his. With the release of every catchy, college-radio-friendly single, Morrissey's cultish fan base seemed to grow, and even poorly received albums like 1991's Kill Uncle failed to stand in the way of successful tours. Now it's hard to find five people who could give a damn. Changing musical currents may account for some of this, but it's easier to blame a decline in quality. Through 1992's Your Arsenal, Morrissey produced irrepressible pop music with lyrics ambiguous enough in their over-the-top angst to appeal both to willowy, black-clad poetess types and those who detected more than a hint of irony in his persona. Since then, despite good moments, both the man and his music have become self-indulgent, leaning heavily toward uncut pretension rather than faux-pretension—a trend continued with, as its title suggests, Maladjusted. Though more memorable than 1995's Southpaw Grammar, the album's low points are frighteningly low. With musical accompaniment ranging from the drearily unspectacular to the merely chirpy, songs such as "Papa Jack" and "Roy's Keen" do more than verge on self-parody. Worse yet is "Sorrow Will Come In The End," a melodramatic spoken-word track which, if read autobiographically—and with an artist this self-involved, that's not a dangerous thing to do—is a threat against the lives of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, the alienated and successfully litigious half of The Smiths. Of course, the song is merely an attempt to court controversy, which, had Morrissey produced an album filled with tracks as strong as "Alma Matters" and "Satan Rejected My Soul," would not have been necessary. Hardcore fans will want to give it a listen, but all others should stay far away.

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