Morrissey - Years Of Refusal

TC 10/02/2009

Rating: 4/5

The Pope of Mope returns with album number ten and you'd be forgiven for letting out a faint yawn. The last offering, in 2006, “Ringleader Of The Tormentors” won't go down as a classic, although I doubt old misery guts was over concerned!

So here we are in the year the man turns 50 and some 22 years since The Smiths disbanded. Well life may be different now for all of us that were even alive back then, but as far as the written word of Morrissey is concerned, life is still worthy of full throttle bitterness and spite. However, as he states quite succinctly here 'I know by now you think I should have straightened myself out, but you drop dead' - bigmouth strikes again eh?

Back in 1986 Morrissey was preaching to a generation of hateful unloved adolescents who worshipped his every word for encapsulating exactly what they felt about their own empty lives. Right now, you have to wonder who attends his congregation, other than the same people whilst they drive the Merc to their jobs in the city. But the removal of such a heavy burden on the man isn't necessarily a bad thing; as he now stands without his shedded skin we need to evaluate the finished product on its bare merits…and I believe it passes the test with flying colours.

Recording started well over a year ago on this set and, along with a label reshuffle, has seen a whole gang of differing assistants, including a certain Jeff Beck popping up for a few chords. Overall, the musical quality exceeds much of his previous material and is generally a little harder than before. The opening track Something Is Squeezing My Skull kicks off with real drive and has you sitting up and paying attention from the word go. Elsewhere there is a healthy blend of all the things we would expect and desire, there's wistfulness on I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris ("in the absence of your love & the absence of human touch"). The obligatory appraisal of death on One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell ("when I die I want to go to hell and that's when goodbye should be farewell") and of course self-obsessiveness on All You Need Is Me ("there's so much destruction all over the world and all you can do is complain about me"). The album closes with I'm Ok By Myself, a powerful number that acts as a fitting personal yet painful epitaph that only Morrissey could deliver.

The overall strength of the set is perhaps evidenced by earlier singles like “That's How People Grow Up” fading into the background somewhat. The overall tempo is generally high but dropping into solemn mode on tracks like “You Were Good In Your Time” is a welcome diversion. The overall blend of material is very good indeed, despite the odd detour into Spanish flamenco. There is an eloquence here that the bitter adolescent of 1986 didn't possess, but the bitter ageing professor exudes in abundance and that's exactly why this album remains an essential part of the current scene. “You don't like me but you love me, either way you're wrong”.

Release date: 16th February 2009