Morrissey — begrudging patron saint of all that is emotionally desolate and otherwise comfortably bummed — is but a mere mortal, as his recent collapse on stage proves. The Sharply Dressed One has been cranking out new music at an exhausting pace, with three studio records and one live album in the past five years.
Following on the heels of this year’s fantastic Years of Refusal, the equally fantastic (if prosaically titled) Swords collects the wealth of Morrissey’s recent B-sides. This may be the most immediate and catchy thrill of Mozzer’s post-millennial output, as “Children in Pieces,” “It’s Hard To Walk Tall When You’re Small,” and the Eastern-inflected “Good Looking Man About Town” would argue.
There are plenty of fatalistic life lessons here (if you don’t like me, don’t look at me; shame rules the world; Christian Dior will suffice as a metaphor for how we fucked up), not to mention a crushing live cover of David Bowie’s “Drive-In Saturday.” Conformity equals wasted life in “Teenage Dad on His Estate,” which laments the way we’re guided by the media. Guilty as charged, then: I’ll gladly let Moz, my all-too-human co-pilot, do my thinking for me.