WHAT do you want from a Morrissey solo album in 2014?
A title to make others jealous. Tick. A reactivated legendary label name, Harvest, to link him with rock history, just as he insisted his cussed autobiography should be published by Penguin Classics. Tick. A retro sleeve where he still doesn't look at the camera but holds a pen, with a dog at his master's feet. Tick.
All this is dressing, of course, an artform that Morrissey re-wrote in his Smiths days and continues to apply with the swish of a golden arrow/poisoned dart. What you really want from a new Morrissey album is better tunes. Or certainly better and less bitter than on his leaden last missive from his Mount Olympus eerie, when 2009's Years Of Refusal's turgid dirges met with universal refusal.
Add another tick for a resurrection that findsMprrisey acknowledging that while the grace, velocity and audacity of Morrissey and Marr's Smiths can never be re-activated, it doesn't half help the Morrissey medicine – however unpalatable – go down better when the melodies wind their way inside you, rather than bludgeon you.
Equally important, enter Gustavo Manzur, replacing the grumpy guitar noise of Alain Whyte with flamenco guitar, trumpet and such like to accompany the Morrissey musings on Istanbul, KFC, China, social injustice, bullfighting, the environment, children, kissing and mortality, in the wake of his scrape with serious illness, on Oboe Concerto.
He still sneers and derides, but the grey days of Years Of Refusal are behind him, and even if he is unlikely to become a sage eminence gris, the melancholy is rising above the malady, the eloquent humour is reviving, and the Morrissey croon is sending signals to the moon again. Still more likely to provoke war than world peace, he is nevertheless taking care of business, as Elvis once did.