It happens like this: before a new Morrissey album is released you go back and listen to some of his old works to get into the right mood and... how strange! they invariably sound more impressive and poignant than you remembered. With the only notable exception of KILL UNCLE (his weakest) all of Morrissey's (and The Smiths') works tend to get better with time: how many artists do you know about whom you can say the same?
YEARS OF REFUSAL is the Mancunian Bard's ninth studio album and finds him in a very energetic mood. It is a lively, swift record that beautifully belies its author's age, full as it is of sharp guitars and fresh songs ably produced by the late Jerry Finn. And of course it has a punk edge, but do not let that confuse you: this is still a very elegant work where Morrissey's vocals and lyrics shine as bright as ever. The musical palette includes glam BOWIE, SPARKS, mid-70s ROXY MUSIC and punk, all welded into that unmistakable blend we have been so fascinated by since 1983. The band is very tight too, with drummer MATT WALKER deserving a special mention: his drumming manages to be nimble and powerful at the same time, lending this album a very distinctive, sprightly sound.
Morrissey classics already detected on REFUSAL are:
- I'M THROWING MY ARMS AROUND PARIS (SUEDEHEAD's wiser sister)
- IT'S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY ANYMORE (a thrillingly cruel song)
- THAT'S HOW PEOPLE GROW UP (a groovy, SIREN-inflected track)
- WHEN LAST I SPOKE TO CAROL (balearic Morrissey, anyone?)
The rest of the disc is definitely worth four stars, but as Moz has said before: these things take time. We feel more than confident that we will end up adding a fifth one in a not so distant future.
See you in 2012.