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Morrissey’s ninth solo album is one of those collections that leaked in fits and starts via live performances and singles and the like that by the time we took it in from “Something Is Squeezing My Skull” through “I’m OK By Myself” it already felt fairly familiar. For instance, a few months ago, we got that aforementioned skull-squeezing opening track along with “Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed” live at La Laiterie in Strasbourg, France. There were also various versions of “That’s How People Grow Up,” All You Need Is Me,” and just before the New Year, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris.” The bigger trick was figuring out the proper sequence and over analyzing the album art. All that said, we’ve now listened to Moz’s Ringleader Of The Tormentors followup enough times to weigh in on it as a whole.

We’re unsure what Morrissey’s been refusing to do all these years, but the dozen tracks don’t suggest too much change: We still get the man pining and punning, showcasing his soft and razorsharp sides, and hooking us in with his drama. By and large, Years is an upbeat, concise collection. In fact, a number of the first eight songs are under (or just above) three minutes. It’s the last four songs that are the longest. At their best, these lengthier songs create an epic feeling for the finale, but in the case of the dragging “You Were Good In Your Time,” they can also diminish the punch.

For the most, Morrissey’s performances are enjoyable — he over enunciates, chatters, hooks us in, swoons. A perfect example if the excellent opener “Something Is Squeezing,” wherein he lets us know “there is no hope in modern life,” but that “the motion of taxis excites me.” Well, the motion of this song excites us, especially how it explodes with a drum-roll build and background “hey”’s at the finale. Fuck yes, take a bow.

Not all the songs have such an invigorating kick: “Black Cloud” is decent, but just decent. We could analyze some other lesser bits, but actually, the best songs are the ones we’ve heard: The lovely “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” the energetic, cheeky “All You Need Is Me,” “That’s How People Grow Up,” “Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed” and its weird fart synth. Across the board, the wordplay isn’t always as tight as it once was, but he seems like he isn’t trying as hard to cram so much into the sentences, so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: It feels like the ease of age. Morrissey 2009 isn’t always as exciting as the Morrissey of old, but despite his focus on mortality and aging the time around, the guy is far from dead. Good thing, he has that baby to raise.

Years Of Refusal is out 2/17 on Attack/Lost Highway. You can see him in person soon, too.

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Comments (21)
  1. jon  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    rad!

  2. zapo  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    morrissey is one dirty freaking hippie, but i’ll buy anything he endorses, including his line of vegan pizza.

  3. Roger  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    Good review. “Paris” is a strong single … the chord progression is like an inverted “Tomorrow.” Half the songs are meh, but I loves me some Moz.

  4. By far “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore” is the strongest track. The end of that song with Morrissey’s yells and wails feels as close to “classic” Moz as we can get.
    One of the albums shining moments.

  5. Matt  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    Can’t wait for this album. The few songs I’ve heard from it are great.

  6. Born Again Xtian  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    His hand is on a baby’s penis! PHONE THE AUTHORITIES, PHONE THE AUTHORITIES, GAY HAND ON A BABY PENIS PHONE THE AUTHORITIES

  7. gayrod  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2009 0

    this is such a waste of time fuck all of you senthavisouk@gmail.com

  8. I never really got into Morrissey in the past, and this album probably won’t turn me into a superfan, but it sounds a lot more badass than what he’s done in the past. Could just be the cover though.

  9. Morrissey has got some talents.. But i still prefer the previous version of him..

  10. ...  |   Posted on Jan 8th, 2009 0

    This album is not good.

  11. Matthew  |   Posted on Jan 8th, 2009 0

    The record is great, especially “It’s not your birthday anymore, ” which is one of his best in years.

    It would have been nice to have more new songs, but we should get plenty of B sides out of this one. Not his best record (that would go to Vauxhall and I) but it’s a worthy addition to his long career. Viva Moz!

  12. Bill  |   Posted on Jan 10th, 2009 0

    Catapiller on Morrissey’s Arm Butterfly on Baby’s Head = Morrissey’s Child????

  13. XAVeRY  |   Posted on Jan 10th, 2009 0

    certainly not his best at all. the lyrics are imho very dull compared to his earlier albums, especially vauxhall and arsenal. as mentioned before, “it’s not your birthday anymore” is the very best track on this CD. I also like “I’m throwing…” and “something is….”. I don’t really like the rest. the first couple listens to the album gave me a weird feeling and brought a frown to my face. now, I’ve learnt to accept the music from this album, but “accepting” the music is not what I expect from Morrissey.

  14. xavi  |   Posted on Jan 10th, 2009 0

    The album is OK. NOthing new here. There’s a few good songs here and there. But I dunno, I’m a huge MOZ fan and I’m not easily pleased. *shrug* There I said it.
    Sitill love the mozzer whatever happens

  15. GRIS FUSIL  |   Posted on Jan 11th, 2009 0

    Don’t you know, Morrissey, I’m every bridge, every arm of the Eiffel tower, every stone of Paris? I DO KNOW YOU KNOW.

  16. oz  |   Posted on Jan 11th, 2009 0

    this is a solid album… i have heard it over a dozen times in full…Carol and good in your time are just great songs…paris also…the rest of the album is good to really good and that is more then you can expect from any album by any artist…overall better then riingleaders but not quite up to par as quarry at leat not yet….enjoy long live king moz….

  17. I very much dig that album cover.. Does that make me a creep?

  18. Ricardo César  |   Posted on Jan 27th, 2009 0

    Well… I love Mozz. The album has its moments, but is far away from Vauxhall and Your Arsenal. Loved the cover!

  19. mason  |   Posted on Feb 22nd, 2009 0

    that is not his baby, it’s his producers i believe. you can read it on wikipedia

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