Like an uncorked bottle of wine in the back of your liquor cabinet that you didn’t finish because you’re in your thirties and can’t down a bottle of red without a massive hangover, Morrissey has not gotten better with age.
Maybe that’s why the world collectively neglected to mark the 30th anniversary of one of his most defining albums – Bona Drag.
Released on October 15, 1990, and now creeping up on it’s 31st birthday, the collection of singles and B-sides that earned Morrissey his first chart success in the US is as much a testament to the singer’s enduring appeal as it is a warning sign of trouble to come. For all its musical allusions to early work with the Smiths, unabashed references to queerness, and mastery of pop songwriting, Bona Drag also foreshadows Morrissey’s turn to indie-rock’s supervillain when he uses “carnivore” as an insult, or when he antagonistically answers “no I’ve changed my mind again” to the cheers at his demise on the album’s closing.
There’s a certain irony that the singer who compared his enemies to Hitler on one of this album’s outtakes would eventually refer to an entire country as a “subspecies” and align himself with Britain’s closest corollary to the Nazis, but such deplorable things may never have been out of character. Perhaps then it’s best that Bona Drag’s 30th birthday went unmarked. Rather than forcing fans to revisit enduring classics in a modern context, we can remember them as we first heard them – the haunting croon-cum-rallying cry of an outsider king transitioning to our most unfortunate pop star.