The greatest Morrissey songs aren't just sad, creepy and boastful; they also contain telling details, counterintuitive punch lines, and surprise turns of phrase. On Greatest Hits, we get winners such as "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get."
But sometimes Morrissey doesn't channel Morrissey properly, and one of the two new songs on the album, "All You Need Is Me," falls into this category. "There's so much destruction all over the world," he blandly sings, "and all you can do is complain about me." (Okay, point taken.)
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Though "The Youngest Was the Most Loved" insists there's no such thing as normal, in fact Greatest Hits is as normal as the Smiths alum gets. This is his sixth compilation of solo material, and it's not as compelling as 2001's The Best of Morrissey, for it neglects classic songs such as "Alma Matters," "Hairdresser on Fire" and "Sing Your Life" in favor of several selections from 2004's You Are the Quarry and 2006's Ringleader of the Tormentors. (This trend continues on a fairly unremarkable nine-track live album that accompanies Greatest Hits' early pressings.) Morrissey seems to be making the case that his recent material is as good as anything he's done. I'm not quite buying it, although the album's other new track, "That's How People Grow Up," is fun: "I was driving my car/I crashed and broke my spine/So, yes, there are things worse in life than never being someone's sweetie." A self-rebuke of his past work? Maybe, but it's nice to know Morrissey is still not content to be a one-trick depressive.