Morrissey Throws His Arms Around His Malaise

noah | February 16, 2009 10:00 am

Our look at the closing lines of the week’s biggest new-music reviews continues with a look at reactions to Years Of Refusal, the new album from Morrissey:

• “With Years of Refusal, Morrissey and his band of not-so-merry men have built another rock temple to show off his insecurities and self-doubt and ensure they stand the test of time.” [Glenn Gamboa, Newsday]

• “‘It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore’ starts tender, but something callous is stewing beneath its padding drums and gentle croon. ‘Did you really think we meant all those syrupy sentimental things that we said?’ sings Morrissey, before the song takes a still darker turn into grudgeful, violent sexuality. In its cruelty and intensity, it’s a cousin to Pulp’s ‘This Is Hardcore,’ and it’s the most disturbing, gripping Morrissey track since 1994’s ‘Speedway.’ Even though the album dies away after ‘Birthday,’ it and its more raucous predecessors suggest an artist as pugnacious, confident, and necessary as he’s ever been.” [Tom Ewing, Pitchfork]

• “Unless you’re such an English major that lyrics blot out the rest of a song, you’ll be coming to grips with instrumental songwriting that’s slightly anonymous, slightly passé college rock built to be consistent with an old pattern, his signature sound. It’s merely part of the system. Years of Refusal feels vibrant as an art of words and images; it’s somehow weaker as music.” [Ben Ratliff, NYT]

• “‘You Were Good in Your Time’ is evidence of how tremendous Morrissey can still be: a farewell from fan to dying star that suddenly snaps to a halt, leaving two minutes of chillingly abstract noise in its wake, it’s heartbreakingly tender and unpredictable. That you can’t apply those adjectives to much else here is Years of Refusal‘s biggest downfall.” [Guardian]