1. Our Frank
2. Asian Rut
3. Sing Your Life
4. Mute Witness
5. King Leer
6. Found Found Found
7. Driving Your Girlfriend Home
8. The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye
9. (I'm) The End of the Family Line
10. There's A Place In Hell For Me And My Friends
11. Tony the Pony (bonus track)
Steven Patrick Morrissey, perhaps the original and quintessential ambiguously gay emo rock star, left the Smiths in 1987 and, within six months, released his first solo album, a flawed but promising endeavor entitled Viva Hate. Sadly, Morrissey's second solo outing, Kill Uncle, almost entirely fails to measure up to its predecessor.
Most of Kill Uncle falls flat in comparison because rather than sounding confident and fresh like Viva Hate, the mostly down-tempo Kill Uncle comes across as tentative and muffled, with Moz's most self-indulgent and wordy tendencies coming to the forefront. Other than on the lyrically terse "Found, Found, Found," Morrissey sounds as if he's afraid to write a chorus and rock out. Indeed, a listener would be forgiven for wondering if someone wasn't just phoning in his performance. Morrissey croons, croons, and croons some more, laying on the vibrato and abandoning the yelps, falsettos, and full-volume bellows that characterize his most exciting and interesting work.
Worse yet, two tracks--"Driving Your Girlfriend Home" and "(I'm) The End Of The Family Line"--feature guitar lines that sound as if they belong on a Smiths record. Instead of serving as a welcome return to form, though, these songs evoke a desire in the listener to hear Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, and Mike Joyce, not these impostors Mark E. Nevins, Bedders, and Andrew Paresi, backing up Morrissey, and these two songs only remind the listener of a bitter truth: the Smiths are no more.
The bright spots in the parade of mediocrity called Kill Uncle are "Our Frank," "Sing Your Life," and, ironically, "Tony the Pony," a bonus track that's listed on the disc but omitted from the lyric sheet and tray card. These tracks appear on three of the nine compilations covering this era of Morrissey's career. ("Sing Your Life" appears on Rhino Records' The Best of Morrissey, "Our Frank" appears on EMI's Suedehead: The Best of Morrissey, and all three songs appear on the box set The CD Singles '88-91'.) Even so, none of these songs can hold a candle to the three best tracks from Viva Hate ("Suedehead," "Everyday Is Like Sunday," and "Hairdresser On Fire"), and in the end, Kill Uncle doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor.
Kill Uncle doesn't qualify as an outright bad or even a regrettable album, but it's lackluster and stacks up as one of Morrissey's lesser, essentially forgettable works. Download it if you must, but spend your money on something better.
Review by Jonathan Arnett
Review date: 06/2012