Morrissey - That's How People Grow Up

Bill Cummings 31/01/2008

Rating: 2/5

If there's one thing that the whole NME Vs Morrissey race row taught us (apart from that the NME likes to sensationalise and misconstrue interviews), it's that Morrissey's public persona hasn't changed that much. Once the frontman for one of the best bands of the 80s (The Smiths) and the voice for a generation of disaffected teenagers and twenty somethings, he may be more mature now, but he's just as outspoken, just as idiosyncratic, just as belligerent as he's ever been. He may now call LA his home but he's just as fascinated with a tragic/romantic view of an England he once knew(see "The Queen is Dead" for further evidence of this) and an English identity that he thinks has been crumbling for a long time.

It's an irony then that his new single "That's How People Grow Up" feels like such a retrograde misstep. One of two new tracks from his forthcoming (and second) solo greatest hits, one gets the faint whiff of contractual obligation about the whole thing, perhaps part of the deal that saw him move labels from Attack to Decca? (Yeah, I know "Reissue! Repackage!") The slightly disappointing track listing for this compilation focuses mainly on his more recent output. That feeling is continued by what is rather a lacklustre effort here: that feels like Morrissey on autopilot, ushered in by Baz Boorer's overly muscular guitars and Kirsteen Young's vocal swoops. The whole melodic line feels stilted and straight-jacketed by Morrissey's almost stuttering vocals and clunky backward glances that constantly lurch into self parody. Instead of the delicate melancholia of The Smiths of yore, here the delivery is forced and the structure falls flat, it all feels like well-worn ground indeed. The lyrics read like a wikipedia checklist of some of previous lyrical themes; teen angst, unlucky in love, an obsession with his past. There are even two, count them, two nods towards one of the Smiths' greatest songs "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" as Moz concedes that there are worse things in life than not being loved, yeah like being in a car crash... ("Yes, there are things worse in life than never being someone's sweetie") By the time old grumpy unfurls the one fleeting moment of quality here, one of those trademark rises into falsetto on a chorus that merely repeats the title line, you're left feeling rather disappointed by the whole affair.

The fact that this release feels so unnecessary shouldn't come as much of a surprise, most extra tracks on greatest hits usually are, maybe this was a b-side given prominence as "new material" on a repackaged release, in an attempt to shift a few more units to Mozzer diehards. But one expects a little more from Morrissey's solo work of late, you can only hope that he's keeping his best material under his hat until his proposed next album that will see the light of day this autumn, maybe that will see him produce something worthy of our attention, once more.

Release date: 28/01/08