Sound — 7
As the face of the short-lived but iconic '80s British alt-rock band, The Smiths, Morrissey took little time to develop into a potent figure in the music world. Not letting the end of The Smiths be his departure from music, Morrissey continued to make music, quickly releasing his debut solo album, "Viva Hate," soon after the band's breakup. From then on, Morrissey has continued a steady release of solo albums throughout the past twenty-plus years, and while many of those albums have earned rightful acclaim, Morrissey's persona has grown more and more into a caricature with time. Within the past few years after the release of his ninth studio album, "Years of Refusal," Morrissey's name has ostentatiously occupied music news - spanning from his inflammatory sentiments on social issues, his eye-roll-inducing statement on his ambiguous sexuality, and his diva-like cancelling of his tour multiple times (which he did once again in the midst of finally going through with the tour in 2014). Even the announcement of his tenth studio album, "World Peace Is None of Your Business," was met with snickering responses based on how ridiculous the album title and tracklist sounded, but regardless, Morrissey's veteran status as a musician would still warrant the utmost attention, and now, everyone gets to see what he brings to the table with his landmark tenth album, and if it's enough of a reason for Morrissey's increasingly high-maintenance demeanor to be excused.
First and foremost, there's a fine instrumental display throughout "World Peace Is None of Your Business." Morrissey shows no interest in keeping things basic, and packs a lot of intertwining melodies and supporting instruments in just about every track. In keeping with the titular concept of the world, Morrissey includes a lot of international music influences in the album- such as the opening hum of didgeridoos in "World Peace Is None of Your Business," some supporting sitar melodies in "Instanbul," a forlorn accordion interlude in "Earth Is the Loneliest Planet," mariachi horns in "The Bullfighter Dies," and a hint of castanets in "Kiss Me a Lot" - which shows the album pulling off a proper multi-cultural meshing. But outside of the unconventional instrument usage, the strongest instrument throughout the album is the most conventional of them all - the acoustic guitar. Along with appearing in almost every song, the acoustic guitars most notably command the reins throughout "Mountjoy," liven up the bridge of "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle," and close out "Staircase at the University" with a spirited solo.
The album's pace is predominantly downbeat and easygoing, which ends up being hit-or-miss. While the lullaby-like "World Peace Is None Of Your Business" is a calculated risk to begin the album with, the tremolo guitar solo at the end boosts the energy to prevent the listener from falling asleep four minutes into the album; and the synth-infused, jazz-inspired "Oboe Concerto" proves to be a good closing track. On the other hand, tracks like "I'm Not a Man" and "Smiler With Knife" take their agonizing time trudging forward, with Morrissey hitting the reset button on the instruments numerous times after they begin to flourish to push things back to the beginning, which quickly morphs into snooze-worthy monotony. The album does an alright job providing higher-energy tracks, however, with "Istanbul" providing the most alt-rock muscle on the album, "The Bullfighter Dies" being a short but sweet tune ringing with triumph, and "Staircase at the University" coming off oddly chipper in its sound, especially while you hear Morrissey sing about the gory result of a student's suicide in the chorus.
Lyrics — 4
Morrissey's brand as a lyricist has most notably gravitated towards his perpetual sorrow in regards to his lonerism, and though his "How Soon Is Now?" side will always be the most defining, even Morrissey knows he reached that apex with his previous album, the appropriately titled "Years of Refusal." Following in the same vein of blunt titling, "World Peace Is None of Your Business" primarily showcases Morrissey's sociopolitical views; as if everyone wasn't already privy to what they are. From the establishment-critiquing crooning of "World Peace Is None of Your Business" and the cheesy, anti-animal-cruelty schadenfreude in "The Bullfighter Dies," to the anecdotal condemnation of academic pressure in "Staircase at the University" and the perverse take on subservience in marriage in "Kick the Bride Down the Aisle," Morrissey is apt to point out the many fallacies of the world, and also makes a conscious effort to abstract himself from those problems. This is the most evident in his near-eight-minute, holier-than-thou diatribe "I'm Not a Man," but even in the subtle lyrical motif of labeling everyone as failures and losers, which appears in "Earth Is the Loneliest Planet" and "Mountjoy," Morrissey is inclined to separate himself from the unworthy, mistake-making majority (which, to him, is everyone that isn't him). This, of course, is not the first time Morrissey's lyrics painted the picture of him separated from the rest of the world, but in earlier works, when Morrissey separated himself from relationships due to his proclamations of worthlessness and inability to deal with the disappointment of failed relationships, listeners pined in pity at his self-ostracizing, and many could relate to it. Morrissey's attempt to secede from everyone else in "World Peace Is None Of Your Business" is a steeply self-centered and pretentious one, and there's much less room to relate, though Morrissey seems to want it that way.
Overall Impression — 5
Musically, Morrissey provides satisfying elaboration throughout "World Peace Is None of Your Business." The worldliness of sound in the album is a good call, not only because it fits the concept of the album, but because as Morrissey ages, his fanbase also ages, so this step towards a more adult-contemporary sound (whether intentional or coincidental) comes out as beneficial overall. But as Morrissey's chiding and egocentric personality grows more and more difficult, it also can't help but spill onto the record, and the resulting lyrics is the factor that ends up being the kiss of death. People may already be resigned to the fact that Morrissey's head could eclipse the sun at this point, which, to be fair, can also be said about a handful of other A-list musicians - but Morrissey's goal in "World Peace Is None of Your Business" isn't to empathetically highlight the myriad of conflicts in society; it's a chance to hold himself higher than those he feels are contributing to the problem. Morrissey may say world peace is none of our business, but it's not his business, either; making himself a CD-shaped halo, however, is his business.