“You Are the Quarry” (Sanctuary)
Stephen Patrick Morrissey is a piece of work, as they say here in the U.S.A., the Englishman’s current land of residence. After a five-year hiatus, Brit-rock’s eternal misfit returns in full flower on “You Are the Quarry” (in stores Tuesday), atremble with emotional conflict, affronted by a world that treats him with indifference or cruelty, cursed to isolation but longing for connection. Welcome back, Mozz.
Morrissey finds someone to blame for this pickle in “I Have Forgiven Jesus,” in which he doesn’t seem to have forgiven him at all: “Why did you give me so much love in a loveless world, when there is no one I can turn to, to unlock all this love?” he sings to no avail -- Jesus has no comment. Elsewhere, Morrissey encourages a potential partner to “close your eyes and think of someone you physically admire, and let me kiss you.” Then there’s the woman who tells him she loves him -- “which means she must be insane.”
Morrissey’s lyrics often seem to spill out, unprocessed, straight from his heart, but their bizarre ungainliness is somehow disarming. From the opening song, a mixed-emotions critique of the U.S.: “It brought you the hamburger /Well, America, you know where you can shove your hamburger / And don’t you wonder why in Estonia they say, ‘Hey you, big fat pig, you fat pig, you fat pig.”
Like his previous solo albums and his 1980s output with the Smiths, Morrissey places these sentiments and his song-song deadpan vocals in musical settings that, at their best, swell, sigh and swoon with the surging buoyancy of classic British rock, in the line from the Beatles to the Kinks to Bowie.
“Quarry” is a little heavy on the lugubrious ballads, but it’s all Morrissey all the time.