THE NEVER-PLAYED SYMPHONIES
The Morrissey quest eventually worked out. Hopped off the bus on the way home and hit Borders, and I got the only copy they had. I almost missed it. It's a thin, cardboard sleeve, and it was just filed in with his other discs.
I have to say, I'm rather pleased. The whole 4-song EP clocks in at under 12 minutes, which means no fluff. In and out with zero fuss. The A-side proves to be a better lead each time I hear it, its propulsive melody ringing on even after it's been rung out. "It's Hard To Walk Tall When You're Small" is another rocker, and Morrissey plays with shifting rhythms, switching up his phrasing as if climbing and descending criss-crossing staircases. And "I can kill standing still, it's easy" are the best opening lines I've heard in some time.
"Munich Air Disaster 1958" is the weakest of the quartet. In some ways, it's almost like a sketch, an ambient bridge midway through the disc. Not bad, but not terribly memorable, which is fine as it makes way for the finest of the B-sides--the piano ballad "The Never-Played Symphonies." Morrissey comes off like a '60s torch crooner, singing of chances missed not with an overbearing melancholy, but almost a steely resolve. The song slowly builds, bringing in a string section, and then going out with a struck gong before a proper crescendo can take root--perfect. Thematically, it's another missed opportunity brought to life—literally, not metaphorically (to shake up the lyrics).
And I probably shouldn't dismiss "Munich Air Disaster 1958" completely. Lyrically, it hearkens back to "Suffer Little Children" for it's immersion in something real and tragic, as well as identifying with the victims. Overall, the lyrical content of this EP is defiant, heartfelt, and poetic without being bogged down by self-obsession. "Symphonies," which flashes forward to Moz reflecting on life from his death bed (a narrative moebius strip) is one of those nimble pieces where he balances between an all-encompassing anthem for the forlorn and the dangerously personal, like "Now My Heart Is Full" or "Nobody Loves Us." It's both a kiss-off and an embrace.
The next single is to be "First of the Gang To Die." It's a good choice, and though it would have been easy to play it safe when recording that track, since its performance on the last tour and his airing it out on the Craig Kilborn show makes it easily the most well-known of the new songs, the clip on Moz's official website, suggests they had fun with it. He let producer Jerry Finn introduce playful samples and abstract scribbles. I want to hear the whole thing, because I daresay they improved on it. (Guess I'll have to hold out two weeks for the album.)
Current Soundtrack: Prince, Musicology