Years of Refusal
First of all, we must admit (and by we, I mean myself, who has been gawking at this cover ever since the banner ads started appearing on my favorite blogs weeks ago), Moz is looking pretty sharp. His biceps could rival those of Springsteen. Alright, not quite, but still, pretty impressive for someone who will turn 50 this year and has spent much of his life whining about how unattractive he is.
Which brings us to this record. Morrissey manages to keep up with that whining, still insisting that no one loves him and that he's ugly etc etc. For example, a song like "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" would seemingly be all about the romance of love's capital city, but instead the title line follows with "Because only stone and steel accept my love" and "Nobody wants my love." This is the return of classic Morrissey, in the emotional sense, a far cry from the Morrissey of his previous studio album, Ringleader of the Tormentors, which saw Morrissey happily in love in Rome.
But we could hardly expect the likes of Morrissey to stay happy for long. The misery had to come back, and come back it has, in the same bombastic glory with thundering drums, mega guitar chords and snarky lyrics like, "You don't like me / But you love me / Either way you're wrong / You're going to miss me when I'm gone," in "All You Need Is Me." But then we do get a few nice surprises, like the chorus of mariachi-inspired trumpets on "When I Last Spoke To Carol." Of course, those surprises are few and far between. Typically, Morrissey keeps with doing what Morrissey does best, and sadly enough it borderlines the mediocre. Merely borderlines mind you, as Morrissey fans will love hearing more of the same from the hero of miserable.
But listening to the record multiple times just seems to drive home the fact that more-of-the-same could be an album like You Are The Quarry, which came out merely five years ago but was an instant classic that could rival the likes of Your Arsenal with tracks like "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores" and "First of the Gang to Die" blazing his trail back to relativity.
Bottom line, it's an effort which could have been better, but could have been worse.
Morrissey plays Atlanta's Variety Playhouse on March 7.