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Maladjusted - Morrissey

Island Records, 1997

Reviewing a Morrissey album is always tricky business, because, as a fan, I tend to lean towards showering him with glowing praise whether or not he deserves it. I love Kill Uncle - the album non-fanatics unanimously despise; I defend Southpaw Grammar to the death, despite the fact that at least two tracks on the album annoy me to no end; but having listened to Morrissey's newest masterpiece, Maladjusted, a few hundred times since I acquired it, I can wholeheartedly say, without a doubt, that the Mozzer is back.  Admittedly, this is NOT an easy album to get into and it is probably not an album for non-fans.  It has none of the enjoyable ups and downs of Vauxhall, and, on first listen, only a couple of immediately singable tracks.  What it does have is emotion and drama, two things which Southpaw was severely lacking on all but a couple of tracks. Those folks who adore such tracks as Viva Hate's "Late Night, Maudlin Street," Kill Uncle's "Asian Rut," or Your Arsenal's "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday," will be taken in by both the title track as well as track 3, titled "Ambitious Outsiders," a sympathetic lament from the point of view of the criminal in which Morrissey sings "Well you're giving giving giving, and we are receiving, no no we're taking, just keeping the population down..." being both sympathetic yet chastizing at the same time.  My personal favorite tracks on the album, however, would have to, of course, be the most immediately catchy tunes, the first single "Alma Matters" and Moz's sarcastic tribute to a window cleaner entitled "Roy's Keen" which just drips of his infamous biting humor as he sings "The ladder is the universe, Roy is the star and I am a satellite but that's alright" hyperbolizing the importance of the window cleaner, in effect mocking him. But by far the most interesting track on the album, a track UK fans won't get to hear, is "Sorrow Will Come In The End."  A spoken word track, complete with weird background noise, almost reminiscent of quirkier Blur, this song, directed towards his former bandmates, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke (he denies this but...well listen to the song, you tell me) and the JP who ruled in their favor, intones "Don't close your eyes, don't ever close your eyes."  While it may be in extremely bad taste, it drips of the classic venom of the man who once suggested one of his biographers should die in a hotel fire; but for those of you who were concerned that Morrissey had gone soft in middle age, it should restore your faith. Overall, Maladjusted is such a thoroughly MORRISSEY album that for Morrissey fans at least, it should serve as the long-awaited justification of continued adherence to the Church of Smithdom.

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