Morrissey – Years of Refusal

February 16th, 2009
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Waxing Nostalgia

The title of Morrissey’s ninth solo album, Years of Refusal, could refer to any number of things: his refusal to be a puppet of the music industry, a beguiling commentary on his famous refusal to tell all about his sexuality, or maybe even his refusal to reform the Smiths? Conjecture is left to the audience as always. His prolific catalogue has always been one large think piece full of punch lines, boosted by a gifted back-up band, including longtime collaborator Boz Boorer. The newest album exemplifies the best of Morrissey’s trademarks, his ability to craft droll turns of phrase with layered meaning. The lyrics, ushered in by stalwart guitars, mostly focus on a lovelorn past and impermanent life. Recently deceased, pop-punk producer Jerry Finn added crisp musical facets to the album, especially with the use of flamenco brass on “When I Last Spoke To Carol.” There are an abundance of hooks such as with single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris.” The vocal melodies also have unexpected shadings in numbers like “Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed” and the heart-wrenching “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore,” the latter of which is positively resplendent with clarinet and brash cymbals. Another surprise appears on “Black Cloud,” featuring a guest guitar solo from Jeff Beck. The last few tracks wane in momentum compared to the rest of Refusal’s sinew, but the album’s overall tenor is at once emotive and tempestuous musically and lyrically, cementing its sonic power.

Morrissey has a vocation as a musical artist, poet and humorist, at which he is typically exceptional. Years of Refusal provides enough evidence of this. In “All You Need Is Me,” Morrissey addresses his listeners and critics on the paradoxical nature of fame with, “You don’t like me/but you love me/either way you’re wrong/you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Indeed, he certainly will be missed the “one day goodbye will be farewell.”

By M. Burns Posted in Reviews