Steven Patrick Morrissey is an alluring individual.
Whether it’s his mystique or prolific ability to rouse a crowd of men in their 40s, everything he has released has been dissected with the accuracy a vegetarian would cringe at.
So enter Years Of Refusal, Morrissey’s ninth solo album. In a word, it is brilliant. From the joyous, dare I say, optimistic-sounding lead single ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris’, to the upbeat ‘Someone’s Squeezing My Skull’, the album is full of tracks that display a remarkable consistency of quality.
A pinhole portcullis into the world of one of the country’s best humans, the lyrical dexterity and poetical prowess of a man who will be 50 this year hasn’t waned or become diluted with age.
With lyrics nothing less than charming, it’s immensely enjoyable when little quips like “Pigs in grey suits”, “Uncivil servants” and “like a QC full of fake humility” find their way through.
Those who bought last year’s greatest hits collection will already be aware of two of the stronger tracks here. ‘All You Need Is Me’ and ‘That’s How People Grow Up’ both featured on said compilation, and serve as an easy way into what proves to be a very accessible record.
There is a distinct depth to proceedings as the tracks unfold, one by one. From the tender ‘You Were Good In Your Time’ to the grandstand finish of ‘I’m OK By Myself’, the material on show proves that Moz, Boz and company are still working at the top of their game, perhaps even bettering their celebrated recent form.
Diehards will rightly question how Years Of Refusal stands up to 2004’s successful You Are The Quarry album, and the answer is that it does so brilliantly. Part of this success is down to the production talents of the late Jerry Finn, who passed away last summer; many will also say that the album’s appeal is down to a seemingly happier central protagonist. Rarely has Morrissey sounded so… cheerful.
Those in the market for nostalgia may have better luck watching Carry On films to gain a taste of the forgotten, but as with anything Morrissey, there’s historically-sourced inspiration to be discovered if you explore deep enough. In terms of longevity, all of these tracks have the ability to step up and become your favourite at one time or another. While these sensations will only come with an investment of your time, it’s certainly worth it.
Whether you love or hate Morrissey, it’s hard to listen to this album and not conclude that it’s one of his best as a solo artist. The feeling of rejuvenation that You Are The Quarry featured has returned, and the sardonic wit from album eight, 2006’s Ringleader Of The Tormentors, is fused throughout the album to great effect.
Almost 25 years after The Smiths swept the country off its feet, turning everyone casually vegetarian and leading grown men to sport quiffs for any occasion, Years Of Refusal is a welcome addition to an already impressive back catalogue: from beginning to end the pace and quality doesn’t let up.
Some may argue that Years Of Refusal lacks the real standout tracks his previous two albums had, but give it a few months and people will be talking about this release with the same kind of reverence that …Quarry received.