Morrissey, "Years of Refusal" (Attack/Lost Highway)
On his new album, "Years of Refusal," Morrissey continues to relish in self-pity, but this time, does it with a more stripped-down accompaniment.
Whereas recent Morrissey CDs had elaborate orchestration, for the most part, he relies mainly on guitars to frame his sound this time around, ranging from glam rock to mariachi beats to even the Smiths.
Morrissey kicks the album off powerfully with "Something Is Squeezing My Skull," his take on anxiety and an overmedicated society, and bookends it with an equally powerful closer, "I'm OK By Myself," though he does sound a bit paranoid with the lyric: "Then came an arm around my shoulder, well surely the hand holds a revolver?" (Sounds like someone wasn't taking the medicine mentioned in the first song).
Between these hard rocking tracks are ample doses of the pity and cleverness we expect. In "Throwing My Arms Around Paris," he croons "I'm throwing my arms around Paris because only stone and steel accept my love." It's a far cry from the two-decade old "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me," but at least on this one, he's accepted the inevitable.
Flashes of brilliance pervade the albums twelve tracks with a taste of The Smiths and his early solo work. No doubt that period has a superior edge, but this album holds its own, especially when you compare his body of work in the new millennium. Over time, he's re-emerged as a vital artist.
While consistency should not be confused with innovation, there's something to be said for an artist that sticks to what he knows best. Morrissey is on top of his game. Not bad for a guy just shy of the big 5-0.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: On "Black Cloud," Morrissey falls short of wooing that special someone. But he does accomplish having one of the albums stronger guitar tracks. No surprise that he gets some help on that one from the legendary Jeff Beck.