in the limelight – morrissey

Morrissey

Years Of Refusal

Lost Highway

 

It is high time. After all the hubbub. The blathering and blabbering. It’s time. Once and for all, the question must be answered. Is Years Of Refusal any good? Does the Mozfather still have it? Friends. I put Morrissey in the limelight and under the microscope!

 

1. Something Is Squeezing My Skull 2.38

The record leads off in a big way with Skull. Short and sweet, it’s one of those songs Morrissey can write in his sleep. Self-deprecation and despair put to paper with his brand of sardonic wit and a smirk on his face. This track should be a single and features one of his better vocal performances. The band is in fine form here as well. 

2. Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed 3.53

The music belies a more somber, poignant lyric. The pressures of society beating a mother down until the final solution is pursued.  Asleep, this is not. A defiant Moz promises revenge and shows empathy for Mother’s plight. A solid track, to be sure.

3. Black Cloud 2.48

Featuring guitar legend Jeff Beck on the axe, Cloud is the last of the three rockers to start the album. The name of the game is unrequited love. A subject Moz knows all too well and that we all have felt in our lives and most likely still do. No one writes about it quite like the Moz with a line such as “I can choke myself to please you and I can sink much lower than usual but there’s nothing I can do to make you mine”. 

4. I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris 2.31

The lead single. Another tale of woe and another lover never to be. Do we sense a pattern? That’s okay because the melody is lovely and the band (whom I’m never been a fan of regardless of lineup) simply offers a beautiful bed for Morrissey to find comfort in only to come to the harsh realisation that only stone and steel accept his love. This one could very well down as one of his most-loved songs over time.

5. All You Need Is Me 3.13

If you own 2008’s  Greatest Hits, then you already know this song as it was one of two singles tacked on in the endless quest for your dollar. The song itself is Morrissey-by-numbers but it’s not a bad thing. Much like Something Is Squeezing My Skull, it’s a song he writes from rote memory but the execution and the delivery are what nails it. He’s done it before but with lines such as “I was a small, fat child in a council house There was only one thing I ever dreamed about And Fate has just Handed it to me – whoopee”, it’s really hard to quibble. It was a solid as a single and it’s a highlight here.

6. When Last I Spoke To Carol 3.24

One of the best performances by the band on this one. Adding a bit of a Spanish lilt adds to this deathly tale. Interesting lyric by Moz on this one. A memory of a c0nversation between he and “Carol” which ends in his saying goodbye at her funeral. Another tale of unrequited love but this time from the other person’s point of view? One of my favourites on the record.

7. That’s How People Grow Up 2.59

The second of the two singles from last year’s Greatest Hits along with the aforementioned All You Need Is Me. Not as well-received when released but the criticism is not completely warranted. Not a skip-over track but it is one where the hook doesn’t grab you as much as the other album tracks do. A bit reminiscent lyrically of Stop Me If YouThink You’ve Heard This One Before

8. One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell 2.57

A stern warning from Moz. Be careful who you hurt for life is fleeting and you may never have a chance to say you’re sorry. Another stellar performance by the band. So vibrant, so bold. It’s a favourite and definitely a single possibility!

9. It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore 5.10

“All the gifts that they gave can’t compare in any way to the love I am now giving to you right here right now on the floor”. Oh really, Steven? What are you trying to tell us here? I don’t know but to me this song is carrying on from a trend begun in Dear God Please Help Me from Ringleader Of The Tormentors of Morrissey being a bit more direct and self-referential in terms of his sexual desires. It’s quite refreshing and adds a new dimension to his lyrical oeuvre not quite seen before.

10. You Were Good In Your Time 5.01

A slow song about what else but death. A lament for the dearly deaprted set against a reflective backdrop. Interesting placement in the tracklisting as it almost lulls you into a sort of dreamlike state before you’re brought back to attention by the songs that follow. Solid piece.

11. Sorry Doesn’t Help 4.03

A rocking tune where have our hero giving a former friend (lover, perhaps) the hand. Angry Moz is a good Moz. 

12. I’m OK By Myself 4.48

The album comes to a close with one of its more rockier tracks and some of the best lyrics as well. “Could this be an arm around my waist? Well, surely the hand contains a knife?” or “Then came an arm around my shoulder Well surely the hand holds a revolver?” are two of examples of why Morrissey is one of the greatest lyricists pop music has ever known. The song itself could have been featured on Ringleader but does have it’s own charm especially as a book-end along with Something Is Squeezing My Skull. An affirmation that he’s not going anywhere and that he still has a way of getting underneath the skin of his detractors and into the hearts of a devoted fanbase.

The verdict? This is as solid a Morrissey record as they come. Is it his best? Hard to say. It’s definitely better than the disappointing Ringleader that came before it. It shows a Morrissey who appears to be not quite ready to go off the dark night of retirement as he turns fifty in May. Some of his best melodies are found in spades here along with the same vitriol and wit that fist made him a phenomenon 26 years ago with Hand In Glove. In other words, the king is back.

 







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4 Comments

  1. Can Morrissey ever do any wrong?;-)

    • Yes. Yes, he can. His transgressions, though, are few and far between. 🙂

  2. Your husband got mad skillz.

  3. That was a great blog!! Thank you for sharing!! xo


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