Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Album Review: Morrissey - Years of Refusal

Years of Refusal
Rating: His best since Vauxhall and I.

Beginning with the 2004 comeback album Morrissey Holding a Tommy Gun (aka: You are the Quarry) and continuing with 2006's Morrissey Holding a Violin (aka: Ringleader of the Tormentors), Steven Patrick has put together a pretty good run of albums featuring covers of His Pompadourness holding something. Morrissey Holding a Baby (aka: Years of Refusal) is the clear high point of this recent run and his best effort in about 15 years. While his voice sounds as strong and clear as it always has, he sounds a little more growly and pissed off than usual. The opener "Something is Squeezing My Skull" sets more of a rocking, angry tone than his recent output, and that tone lingers throughout the album. The Tormentors (Morrissey's backing band) get to play around a little more this time, evidenced by the bit of fuzz guitar (or something) during "Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed." They continue the trend of being an excellent band while not sounding at all like Johnny Marr & Co.

The album's high points come fast and furious (without the Tokyo drift). The first three tracks are excellent, I think the best on the album. The fourth track, "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" is a fine song, but unfortunately kills the momentum that the first three tracks so strongly establish. From there on, the songs are still very good (especially "All You Need Is Me" and "It's Not Your Birthday Anymore"), but only hint at an overarching theme. Perhaps this theme will reveal itself more fully after repeated listens, which will certainly occur. Overall, Years of Refusal is a very, very good album that was certainly hinted at in Quarry and Ringleader. I think the songs might even be better live when they are illustrated by Morrissey's posturing and mugging. I will see this spectacle at the end of March (for the first time). After finally hearing this album, I can't wait.

--Jim Powers


Alex said...

I also agree that the Tormentors sound nothing like Modest Mouse.

Travis said...

Is it me or does Morrissey have an inordinate amount of amount of album titles beginning with the letters "v" and "y"?

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