Years of Refusal

BY Sofi PapamarkoPublished Mar 3, 2009

From the opening chords of Morrissey's ninth solo album, it's clear that we have him back. Sir Moz's previous releases were a puzzling Greatest Hits compilation that weighed his latter-day work far too heavily and Ringleader of the Tormentors, which featured the singer as both completely in love and completely sucking. But it seems that whatever happy love affair that consumed him on Ringleader has gone down the proverbial shitter. Vicious album opener "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" fiercely declares, "I'm doing very well/I can block out the present and the past now." While still managing to stake out new turf - "When I Last Spoke To Carol" is a heartbreaker with mariachi horns and "Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed" features the ringing of a proper church organ - Morrissey really gets back to basics here. Strong melodies, soaring vocal work, lyrics so miserable that they're almost funny and loads of tongue-in-cheek self-reference/self-reverence: note the melodic nod to "Bigmouth Strikes Again" in the bridge of "Black Cloud." "You Were Good In Your Time," "Sorry Doesn't Help" (featuring a stunning melody) and "I'm OK By Myself" all ring with a wistful air of finality, resolutely relegating Morrissey back to his previous sad-sack status. And that is exactly where he belongs. Because Heaven knows he's only ever any good when he's positively miserable.
(Lost Highway/Universal)

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