Morrissey CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth

Music Reviews
Morrissey CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth
Apr 2, 2009, 17:45

Morrissey - Years of Refusal

MORRISSSEY Years of Refusal CD

Why do we still buy Morrissey records? Is it because he still writes lyrics like “I know by now you think I should have straightened myself out / Thank you, drop dead”? Is it out of some sort of loyalty to the legacy of The Smiths, a band that's been broken up for over two decades? No—we continue to buy them because they're still good. Because they still push the buttons Moz pushed in us when we were all younger and less wise. Morrissey still speaks to the dateless alienated loners, the scribblers of café poetry, the disenfranchised trenchcoat timebombs whose idea of a good time is visiting gravesites. And, oh yeah, there's us jaded, comparatively well adjusted thirtysomethings who grew up hanging on his every word. Years of Refusal is easily the best of his recent ‘comeback' albums, bolstering the hairiest production since solo career milestone Your Arsenal, and featuring some of Moz's best, most acutely penetrating tunes. Years of Refusal is more ballsy glam rock than theatrical melodrama (relatively speaking, of course—with Morrissey, melodrama is never in short supply), Years of Refusal finds our hero wittier and more tuneful than he's been in years. He's emphatic and nearly hysterical on opener “Something Is Squeezing My Skull,” and the rest of the album follows suit. An unlikely cameo by Jeff Beck on the catchy, almost Smiths-y “Black Cloud” inexplicably fits the song like a glove, while “When I Last Spoke To Carol” continues Morrissey's preoccupation with flamenco textures. The album also contains some of Morrissey's most personal lyrics in years, as on the overwrought ballad “You Were Good In Your Time,” whose central protagonist—a washed up has been—may be Morrissey's most unflattering depiction of himself to date. Then again, maybe he's just talking about Johnny Marr. Ouch. May he never straighten himself out. [Attack / Lost Highway]

-James Jackson Toth


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