“I’m doing very well.”
Morrissey opens up his latest solo album, Years of Refusal, with a strangely optimistic start. However, optimistic isn’t really the correct word to describe anything Morrissey related, is it? Also, that song (“Something is Squeezing My Skull”) is about being unable to feel alive in the age of prescription drugs.
Okay, so the old dog (sorry Moz) hasn’t really learned a new trick. However, he changes up his style just enough on Years to make you realize that maybe he doesn’t have to. This is probably Morrissey’s loudest album to date. At age 49, The Pope of Mope gives us a real rock album. And it’s a welcome addition to an already stunning catalogue.
Morrissey’s band, The Tormentors, are in full strength here. Boz’s guitar faintly mirrors some Smiths/Viva Hate era songwriting on songs like (personal favorite) “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed” and “All You Need is Me,” while the rest of the band provides enough sonics and energy to match.
And Moz himself still puts as much finesse into his voice and lyrics as his hairdo. He croons wonderfully on the first single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” and on “That’s How People Grow Up.” He even goes into diva mode for the last half of “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore.”
He’s had a pretty good run in the new millennia thus far, but every one of those albums has a song or two that are just……there. This is no different with Years. The guilty parties here are “You Were Good in Your Time,” and, depending on the day it seems, “Sorry Doesn’t Help.” His voice goes a little flat on “You Were Good…” and both songs really feel like fillers: unnecessary and unwanted.
That said, the song immediately following those two (the album’s closer), is the probably the strongest Morrissey cut in a decade. That’s right, “I’m OK By Myself” kicks copious amounts of arse. Moz’s voice is playful, angry, and unobtainable. It’s a perfect storm that already leaves me dreaming about his next album.
While this album may not convert anyone who doesn’t already adore the benevolent Suedehead, it does reaffirm why we need him around still.
And like the back of the LP says: Play Very Loud