Morrissey - Irish Blood, English Heart

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:2004-05-10

He was gone for so long - apparently 'in exile' in LA as his career lay in tatters. Although, given that his fanbase only seemed to grow in his absence, and that he looked suspiciously more healthy, fit and tanned every time we caught a glimpse of him, it was hard to credit the established 'in exile' party line. Still, the exquisite glory of an unimpinged mope is the pop fantasy Morrissey has always sold, and it was only a matter of time before we, his ungrateful public, remembered how good he was at his job and welcomed him back for another bout of overgrown-adolescent attention seeking studded with rare wit and put to sparkling, chiming guitar pop.

It was something of a surprise, then, that this long-delayed comeback single should be so - and there's no other word for it - grunge. However, with its quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic and oblique intimations of defiance, that is unquestionably what 'Irish Blood, English Heart' is. In a neat reversal, here we have indie's premier male diva getting all testosterony about his right to, you know, be Morrissey and not have to explain himself. There's some political window dressing, and some loveably vociferous declarations of national identity from a man who'd spent the best part of a decade living the ex-pat life in Hollywood, but basically this a la Moz hissy fit par excellence, pumped up with macho riffage from his flabby, wheezing backing band.

The song's most deliciously divaish moment comes with the melodramatic tremor in Moz's voice when he sings the name Oliver Cromwell, which, bizarrely, makes it the second song after Monty Python's 'Oliver Cromwell' to feature the Lord Protector's name sung in a silly voice. And that, my friends, is what being a world-class pop star is all about. Oh, how we'd missed him.

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