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Rhythm & Views

Morrissey

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Morrissey hasn't released a solo record since the Clinton Administration, and his timing couldn't be better for You Are the Quarry. The record is, from start to finish, classic Morrissey; there's nothing flashy, save the Morrissey-style lyrical jabs ("America, where the president is never black, female, or gay--not sure about gay") and the jangly guitars accenting Morrissey's lamenting voice, still rich with the same pain and self-deprecation that made Morrissey one of the most influential British performers of all time.

The songs on You Are the Quarry are, in true Morrissey style, emotionally complicated. A love song to America ("America is Not the World") says, "America, you know where you can shove your hamburger"; and "I Have Forgiven Jesus" builds up to the question, "Why did you stick me in self-deprecating bones and skin, Jesus--do you hate me?" "You Know I Couldn't Last" seems an almost autobiographical account of Morrissey's own fall from the critics' grace during his solo career: "The critics who can't break you, they somehow help to make you," he sings, "so don't let the good days of the gold discs creep up and mug you."

But back to the political timing of the record. Each song on You Are The Quarry contains a warning, a self-realization, or an astute observation on life; perhaps the most apt one for America's moment in history comes at the very end of the record, in "You Know I Couldn't Last"; combined with the message of the first song, "America is Not the World," it can take on several levels of meaning: "Your royalties bring you luxuries, but oh--the squalor of the mind."

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