Friday, March 6, 2009

Morrissey album review

Years of Refusal
(Lost Highway/Attack)

Whenever Morrissey returns with something new, he usually insults authority figures and put different spins on favorite topics like unrequited love, death and violence. Such is the case on the King of Melodrama’s ninth studio album, a frequently rocking affair which recalls 1995’s underrated Southpaw Grammar. Originally scheduled for release several months ago, Years of Refusal was delayed due to record company issues. Producer Jerry Finn (Rancid, AFI, Blink-182) - who died last year and helmed comeback effort You are the Quarry - recorded Moz’s band live in the studio. That injected the sound with a sharper urgency and vitality.

Impressive songs “That’s How People Grow Up” and “All You Need is Me” were carried over from the Greatest Hits collection (a strange decision, considering his prolific nature). Several of Morrissey’s acerbic lyrics are bound to provoke a few laughs (the ominous “Mama, Lay Softly on the Riverbed”), while fast opener “Something is Squeezing My Skull” finds the enigmatic Englishman singing about prescription drug addiction and hitting extremely high notes.

Meanwhile, Sixties guitar god Jeff Beck guests on the crunching stomper “Black Cloud,” Oscar-nominated trumpeter Mark Isham adds tasteful flourishes to the glorious “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” and a couple Latin-tinged tunes. Roger Joseph Manning Jr.’s vibrant keyboards/synth work gives everything an added bounce. Since enquiring minds want to know: the baby on the cover belongs to Morrissey’s asst. tour manager.

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