Morrissey
Kill Uncle


1.5
very poor

Review

by Amanda Murray STAFF
June 24th, 2006 | 15 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist


Kill Uncle has an unfinished feel, which can only be explained by the fact that it is indeed musically incomplete. Or so the story goes. According to lore, Morrissey's musical collaborator on this album, Mark Nevin, presented the singer with some rough ideas of the direction in which he desired to head. Musically and socially inept Morrissey was either too musically ignorant to realise the rough drafts were rough drafts (and rubbish ones at that), or too sheepish to suggest that the songs needed work. He took the demos as the final product and ran with them, resulting in the snooze-fest that is Kill Uncle. Ah, it all begins to make sense.

Prior to the disbanding of the Smiths, Morrissey had never needed any musical acuity; Johnny Marr managed all musical aspects masterfully and single-handedly. Even after the breakup, Morrissey relied on the compositions of Stephen Street just to keep his head above the water. Morrissey is an untraditional vocalist and lyricist who holds no regard for structure or musical stability - and this is all well and good when he has a partner who possesses the talents Morrissey lacks. But without a compatible writing partner who understands Morrissey's weaknesses and can work around them, it all falls apart. Such is the case with Kill Uncle. After an unhealthy musical split from Stephen Street in the late 1980s, Morrissey was for the first time without a trusted writing partner. Though the split from Marr was unquestionably more painful and complicated, at least he had Street to fall back on, already a trusted producer and engineer for the Smiths before he become Morrissey's co-writer during the Viva Hate era. When he severed ties with Street, Morrissey had no musical partner to turn to. As such, Kill Uncle is a transitional album and Morrissey is rather ill at ease and apprehensive. He is navigating uncharted territory, which wouldn't be much of a problem if he didn't have a gaping perforation in the boat caused by the substandard music Iceberg (see: the first paragraph).

Though these abysmal problems should have been noted by someone with a set of ears before the album was recorded, or worse yet released, credit must be given where it is due. "Our Frank" is a genuinely catchy song, much in the same vein as every other catchy Morrissey song out there, and it is the only track on which he sounds confident. "Mute Witness" has some of the most inane lyrics he has ever written (and this is the fellow who wrote 'Vicar in a Tutu' and 'Some Girls are Bigger Than Others', natch), but it is once again a catchy song amid a veritable sea of banality, so it stands out. "Driving Your Girlfriend Home" has the moments of subdued awkwardness that only Morrissey can reflect and oddly enough this song is probably helped by the unease with which Morrissey approaches this record.

Some of the songs, like 'King Leer' and 'There's a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends' aren't explicitly unlistenable, they just never seem to take flight and never introduce any noticeable hook. They begin, then they're over, and nothing much comes of it. If you want to fall asleep listening to music and wake with no memory of ever having heard the songs in the first place, these two tracks will do the job quite adequately.

Other songs inspire harsher words. 'The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye', 'Tony the Pony' and '(I'm) The End of the Family Line' are unintentionally absurd. Were I to categorise my least favourite songs ever recorded, I don't doubt that one of these three would make the shortlist. Not quite bad enough to topple 'Games Without Frontiers' or 'Meat is Murder', but I wouldn't count them out either.

Strangely, 'Sing Your Life' was released as a main single, and understandably did not chart well. The song never picks up and the lyrics are no inspiration either. 'Sing your life/anyone can think of words that rhyme', he admits. 'Many others do, why can't you?' What garbage. Perhaps they are meant to be humorous, but I am definitely not seeing it. The only enjoyable thing about this song is trying to figure out which is worse - the music, or the lyrics. I never can quite decide. And it's not even the worst song on the album.

There is really no reason to ever listen to this album, unless you're looking for a reason to hate Morrissey and the fact that he's flaming MORRISSEY isn't enough. Fortunately he found his footing a year after the release of this album and, teaming up with Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer, Morrissey has maintained a relatively consistent set of relationships for nearly fifteen years, a lifetime by his standards. Perhaps he needed to get this album out of his system before moving on with more appropriate ventures, good for him, whatever. It doesn't mean anyone should ever have to listen to it again.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Bron-Yr-Aur
June 24th 2006


4405 Comments


This is an excellent review, and I think I'll probably stay the hell away from this album now.This Message Edited On 06.24.06

Neoteric
June 24th 2006


3243 Comments


Great review Mozza, now is not the time to tell you I have not heard any Morrissey or Smiths.

The Jungler
June 24th 2006


4827 Comments


I was waiting for you to review this, great job. I haven't heard enough solo Morrissey. I guess I won't start with this.

La Revolucion
June 24th 2006


1060 Comments


I don't really like Morrissey, so yeah. Maybe I'm just not listening to the right stuff. Great review.

The Jungler
June 24th 2006


4827 Comments


How do you feel about the Smiths? I always like them better.

La Revolucion
June 24th 2006


1060 Comments


I like The Smiths a lot more than just solo Morrissey.

Two-Headed Boy
June 24th 2006


4527 Comments


I enjoy his newer stuff, but his earlier stuff just falls flat of amusing. I enjoy the Smiths though. Go figure.

Thunderkat
May 17th 2014


576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This rules, Mute Witness rules.

CosmicPie
September 7th 2014


1078 Comments


Album's great. The hell is wrong with you guys?

Thunderkat
September 9th 2014


576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it is, this rules

bach
September 9th 2014


13151 Comments


^^^^

Digging: Mirroring - Foreign Body

Thunderkat
September 9th 2014


576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but Bona Drag is much more accessible, On par with the smiths

bach
September 9th 2014


13151 Comments


you are the best user thunderkat

CosmicPie
September 9th 2014


1078 Comments


Listening to Bona Drag now, actually. It is also of great disposition.

Thunderkat
September 10th 2014


576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bona drag is amazing. That is all 7/5



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