I’m sad that Veronica is being caricatured as meaningless pap. It’s aiming to be frivolous and fruity, not facile. The lyrics are clearly an encoding of dizzy desire and have a justified place within Morrissey’s lyrical universe. Structurally, the song is also distinctive. Desire is hinted at, but never quite gripped and satisfied - this is paralleled in the sliding structural shifts undertaken within the song; there are many appealing nascent melodies hinted at here.
Two things can be true. Morrissey’s lyrics may have diminished somewhat. Yet they were always precociously strong. Comparisons between ‘then’ and ‘now’ are the real motivator of Morrissey becoming a pejoratively labelled ‘nostalgia act’. The current crop of lyrics derive strength from their uniqueness. ‘Sure enough, the telephone rings’ isn’t obvious poetry, but it’s an audaciously ironic line to graft onto a piece of punchy punk rock.
Veronica also leans into this idiosyncrasy, and that’s why it’s not throwaway. The frequently posited counter-factual that features here - ‘would a new artist be praised for these offerings?’ - completely misses the point. The only artist who does these songs - which have merit- with this signature style is Morrissey. I will never request that he cease his output, if only because it would mean the exhaustion of the style that he has summoned throughout his career, with varying degrees of success. The eccentric experiments remain, and we should be grateful - and blessed to one day debate the actual studio version of these new tracks.