Picks and Pans Review: Southpaw Grammar

updated 10/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Although the likes of Pearl Jam and Soul Asylum threaten to run off with his crown, Morrissey is still alternative rock's king of pain. Now on his seventh solo studio album, the former Smiths front man's reign seems endangered: He's beginning to sound a lot like his competition. Unlike his last album, 1994's Vauxhall and I, which incorporated wry rockers, gorgeous dirges and cool rockabilly romps into his usual downbeat mix, Southpaw Grammar is a loud, one-riff affair. Morrissey offers a collection of fulltilt head-bangers that are all revved up but go nowhere. (They'll probably pump up the mosh pit at his live shows, but so what?) He does successfully adorn the awkwardly titled "The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils" with lovely orchestral flourishes and some creepy prose ("There's too many people/ Plannin' your downfall/ When your spirit's on trial/ These nights can be frightening"), but elsewhere he seems to be warbling the same miserable tune over and over. (Reprise)

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