Neo-soulman Matthew E. White first played with neo-Laurel Canyon songstress Flo Morrissey at a Lee Hazlewood tribute concert, where they performed "Some Velvet Morning" together. Pleased with their chemistry, they embarked on recording a collection of covers, hunkering down with White's Spacebomb collective to cover ten songs from the past and present.
In theory, Maladjusted should have been a readjustment to standard indie rock territory for Morrissey after the prog rock detour of Southpaw Grammar, but Morrissey isn't that simple. From the opening title track, with its menacing, swirling paranoia, it's clear that Maladjusted isn't a simple return to form. That isn't to say that the album is devoid of the jangly, maudlin pop songs that are Morrissey's trademark – in fact, the lead single, "Alma Matters," is a quietly catchy tune that ranks as vintage Morrissey.
While it isn't a gutsy rock & roll record like Your Arsenal, Vauxhall and I is equally impressive. Filled with carefully constructed guitar pop gems, the album contains some of Morrissey's best material since the Smiths. Out of all of his solo albums, Vauxhall and I sounds the most like his former band, yet the textured, ringing guitar on this record is an extension of his past, not a replication of it. In fact, with songs like "Now My Heart Is Full" and "Hold on to Your Friends," Morrissey sounds more comfortable and peaceful than he ever has. And "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get," "Speedway," and "Spring-Heeled Jim" prove that he hasn't lost his vicious wit.
Following the breakup of the Smiths, Morrissey needed to prove that he was a viable artist without Johnny Marr, and Viva Hate fulfilled that goal with grace. Working with producer Stephen Street and guitarist Vini Reilly (of the Durutti Column), Morrissey doesn't drastically depart from the sound of Strangeways, Here We Come, offering a selection of 12 jangling guitar pop sounds. One major concession is the presence of synthesizers – which is ironic, considering the Smiths' adamant opposition to keyboards – but neither the sound, nor Morrissey's wit, is diluted. And while the music is occasionally pedestrian, Morrissey compensates with a superb batch of lyrics, ranging from his conventional despair ("Little Man, What Now?," "I Don't Mind If You Forget Me") to the savage political tirade of "Margaret on a Guillotine." Nevertheless, the two masterstrokes on the album – the gorgeous "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and the infectious "Suedehead" – were previously singles, and both are on the compilation Bona Drag.