Morrissey - Years Of Refusal
2009, a year destined to be fuelled by pessimism and never ending talk of an economic downturn. With unemployment set to rise and budget supermarket food for all surely we need some hope to lift us in the face of the gloom that threatens to engulf. Well maybe we have, in the unlikely guise of Morrissey no less. The Pope Of Mope himself finally unveils his 9th studio album ‘Years Of Refusal’ and is still on the very top of his game.
Morrissey albums have become something to look forward to ever since he revitalised himself with 2004’s ‘You Are The Quarry’ and followed up with the brutally personal ‘Ring Of The Tormentors’ in 2006; thankfully washing the middle of the road ‘Southpaw Grammer’ and ‘Maladjusted’ to the back of the mind. With ‘Years Of Refusal’ Mozza has emphatically scored a musical hat trick, this is a not only a very good Morrissey record, it’s a very good record full stop.
Fans will already be familiar with the ‘Greatest Hits’ tracks ‘That’s How People Grow Up’ and the critic baiting ‘All You Need Is Me’, you could be forgiven for questioning why they now appear on this, is it a lazy choice? The truth is that both tracks fit neatly into the album and feel as if they were written to be part of it rather than just being thrown on.
Opener ‘Something Is Squeezing My Skull’ bristles with energy, Morrissey declares “I’m doing very well” the most positive opening words he has sung for some time. His playful lyrics are still cut directly from chunks of sardonic wit though, imploring those who think he should have stopped moaning by now “Thank you drop dead”. He may be doing well but the boy with the thorn in his side clearly still resides.
The marching rhythms of ‘Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed’ follow next, as previewed at last years Hyde Park show along with forthcoming single ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’. The latter is destined to become a firm Morrissey favourite, a prime example of how crafted he has become at the ‘break up’ song. A guitar refrain reminiscent of The Smiths gives way to sweeping strings that lift and bind the sadly touching chorus. When it’s released of February the 9th it should but probably wont be a number 1 single.
‘Black Cloud’ finds its cue from the heavier sounds of ‘You Are The Quarry’ but far from being out of place keeps the pace of the album hurtling upwards with a wistful opening giving way to crunching guitar stabs and sentiments of unrequited love sung about. Latino guitars and trumpets punctuate ’When Last I Spoke To Carol’ demonstrating the band and Morrissey have more than an indie parlance up their sleeves. The grinding bass driven ‘One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell’ is classic Morrissey complete with biting lyrics “the smiling children tell you that you smell” and surely will be a future single. Album closer ‘I’m OK By Myself’ ends the record on a positive note in contrast to much of lyrical tone before it.
Much will be made of if whether this matches up to ’You Are The Quarry’ and its stand out tracks ‘Irish Blood…’ and ‘Last Of The Gang’ and whilst it perhaps doesn’t have something with quite their immediate and catchy punch it somehow feels much more of a complete album. Nothing feels like a filler or a throwaway, as I’ve already said, this is a very good record.
To have Morrissey beginning the year in such startling fashion is most welcome. Forget the economy, forget super saver baked beans, forget cutbacks and presidential elections. This is the resurgent glimmer of hope the world wants and Morrissey is just the man to take us into a brighter time. Obama who…..?