WHO IS HE? Steven Patrick Morrissey — the sardonic former frontman of mope-rock immortals The Smiths, one of post-punk’s great romantic crooners and lyricists, and a relentless curmudgeon who’s apparently never seen a nose he didn’t want to put out of joint with his snarky opinions and provocative political proclamations.
WHAT IS THIS? His dozenth solo studio album and first covers set, featuring rich, tastefully produced and orchestrated ’60s and ’70s pop and folk classics and obscurities by everyone from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie to Jobriath, Dionne Warwick and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (no, really).
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Morrissey does karaoke.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While trying not to think about the fact that some record stores are refusing to stock the disc because he recently appeared on television wearing a pin supporting a far-right political party.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Theatrical, melodramatic, nostalgic, melancholy, sophisticated, lush, bizarre, curious, eccentric, confounding.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Familiar fare like Laura Nyro’s Wedding Bell Blues, Puckett’s Lady Willpower and even Roy Orbison’s It’s Over go over better than lesser-known cuts like Phil Ochs’ Day of Decision — though his rendition of Jobriath’s glammy Morning Starship is a sweet touch.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY THINK? ‘Explain to me again why he did this, but still refuses to reunite The Smiths?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Every time you’re looking for one more song to fill out that iTunes playlist of Weird Covers.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE FOOD, WHAT KIND OF FOOD WOULD IT BE? Vegan sausage.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? One ripoff deserves another.