Published Jul 15, 20142009's Years of Refusal found Morrissey at his most vicious and effervescent, spewing vitriol to cut through the crushing weight of the world he's ever certain is solely on his shoulders. In 2014, that righteous indignation has become indignant righteousness; in other words, Bigmouth has brought his bludgeon, and all that can be done is to brace oneself.
The lyrical edge and wit that once defined Moz's lyrics are just about absent here. "Everyone has babies, babies full of rabies, rabies full of scabies, Scarlet has a fever, ringlets full of ringworm, angel of distemper, the little fella... has got Rubella," goes one particularly clunky, lazy bit of rhyming nonsense, but it's still less egregious than his attempts at preaching. On the title track, he blames democratic voters for the misbehaviour of elected officials ("Each time you vote you support the process"?), while on the well-intentioned masculinity-challenging "I'm Not a Man," he attacks young soldiers instead of the military complex and patriarchy that exploit them, cruelly crooning that "You are the soldier who will not get much older."
It would all be a little easier to swallow if the music were there, but World Peace is None of Your Business feels sluggish, to put it mildly. Where are the bright, propulsive rhythms that made "That's How People Grow Up" feel so urgent? The vocal crescendos and guitar chops that made "Something is Squeezing My Skull" so boisterous and memorable? In their place are the middling salsa of "Earth is the Loneliest Planet" and the emotionless stomp of "heavier" (read: heavy-handed) fare like "Staircase at the University" and "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle."
World Peace is best at its simplest: "The Bullfighter Dies" is well-worn subject matter for Moz, but it's got a nice, memorable little melody lacking on most of the album's tracks; "Kiss Me Alot" is a sweet, lovelorn ballad with vocal curlicues and a nifty guitar breakdown halfway through. As Morrissey's ability to deploy his wit and worldliness fades, it's nice to hear him wax romantic, but for the first time on record, he seems more obsessed with others than himself. Sadly, it doesn't suit him well. (Harvest)