Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Diminishing Returns

It seems increasingly doubtful that I shall be buying the new Morrissey album.

I know, right?

And I appreciate that there will be those of you reading this post and thinking either:
a) Well, so what? or b) Who?

So: Stephen Patrick Morrissey, erstwhile Miserable of Manchester.  Singer and front-man with 80s icons The Smiths who, despite the lack of mainstream media support, burned brightly and have become one of the most important and influential bands of their time.

And then, at the height of their fame, Morrissey (as he is usually known) and the others in the band fell out and went their separate ways.  Johnny Marr, once tagged as a guitar hero, went on to work with a whole number of bands in all sorts of format: seemingly happy to be just under the surface of fame, whilst the others spent most of the 90s and 2000s sueing each other over rights and payments.

And for a while Morrissey's solo career was promising.  His first couple of albums were a good blend of pop and heartfelt sentiments - but with each passing release he seemed to be trading on former glories, repeating the same complaints and then, bereft of a record contract, he vanished.

Seven years passed and then You Are The Quarry came out - a tour-de-force of a comeback, as vital and energetic as anything from his glory days....

To date it has not been matched.  Frankly I didn't even make it all the way through his last album World Peace Is None Of Your Business and haven't been impressed by the new stuff either...

Why am I telling you this?

Well: I always used to be a bit of a completest: once I liked a band or an artist I would keep following them, buying their latest release and eagerly looking forward to the next.  In this way I have almost every album by the Pet Shop Boys, Manic Street Preachers, New Order and a few others, as well as a good sized back catalogue of early Genesis and Peter Gabriel

But they say that your heroes either die young or live long enough to disappoint you - so I guess the question is: how long should you stay loyal?  How long do you keep buying the new stuff hoping there will be a return to form?

Here's a few examples:
Bjork: she is the musical equivalent of Marmite (a yeast extract spread for toast known to divide opinion) and is, to say the least, eccentric.  Much of her solo stuff is verging on weird and experimental and that's fine as far as it goes - but as of recent her albums have also been lacking anything approaching a tune.  She's still getting rave reviews for her innovation and approach, but would it hurt to do something that I could hum along to?

New Order:
Haven't bought the new album despite the rave reviews.  Peter "Hooky" Hook has left and, despite all the accounts of what a bad person he can be, it's not the same without him fighting his bass guitar to the death

Pet Shop Boys
Haven't bought their last 3 albums as I got bored of listening to daft throwaway tunes like "I'm With Stupid" (I mean, honestly...)

Apparently they have recorded their new album but have held back on releasing it in the wake of Donald Trump on the grounds that they are "no longer sure it says what they wanted it to" - and if the band don't have any confidence in the songs, why should I?

I guess it's the same for people who've owned every I-phone since the start and now feel a morbid need to remain loyal and buy every upgrade.

I guess it's the need to hope: hope that something that was once great can be great again - like maybe through them we can recapture that time when those things seemed to be the centre of our universe?

Maybe it's me then that is the problem: maybe I've moved on from those times when hearing Morrissey reflecting the confusion I was feeling was somehow comforting despite the air of misery and maybe hearing him still trying to pay lip-service to those things is just too much to bear....


Stephen Hayes said...

I'm not very familiar with his work. Perhaps I should make an effort to hear more.

The Bug said...

I think that if you've moved on & the artist is stuck, you don't have to complete the set. Also, if the artist has turned into someone that you wouldn't listen to if you'd never heard them before (does that make sense) you don't have to keep buying their stuff. However, if you feel a personal connection to the person beyond the music, then I would get the new work just to show my loyalty. Clear as mud? Ha!

I used to buy all the Indigo Girls & Mary-Chapin Carpenter albums, but somewhere along the way I lost interest. Well, I think it happened when I started listening to audio books in the car instead of music. Maybe I should catch back up now that I have no commute - little trips to the grocery store are perfect for music instead of books. We shall see.