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Morrissey

Years of Refusal (Attack / Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., March 6, 2009

Phases & Stages

Morrissey

Years of Refusal (Attack/Lost Highway)

"I'm doing very well," croons Morrissey in surging, anti-anti-depressant opener "Someting Is Squeezing My Skull" before confessing: "The motion of taxis excites me. Will you peel it back and bite me?" The sun crashed down on Cromwell's empire long ago, but Morrissey, his iconic baritone now aged into a magnificent, throaty timbre, continues to rise like the proverbial sun. Years of Refusal, his most consistently meaty solo work since 1994's Vauxhall and I, amps up guitarist Boz Boorer's crunch and crackle to near-felonius degrees. The rib-cage-rattling riff of "Black Cloud" surrounds Moz's plaintive lament like a shroud of peeling thunderheads, while the flamenco rock-out of "When I Last Spoke to Carol" gallops out of the speakers, striking sparks on the cobbles of your mind like some dark stallion bearing a joyfully funereal lyric. Intimations of death are, typically, everywhere, but so is the Smiths frontman's trademark Wilde streak: Single "All You Need Is Me" is an unstoppable rock-pop masterpiece, pure Moz to its sarcastic core. It might be too much to ask Her Royal Highness to bestow an Order of the British Empire upon a Britain who still includes "The Queen Is Dead" in his live repertoire, but it would be an honor as well-deserved as unexpected. (Morrissey lords over the Bass Concert Hall, Sunday, April 12.)

****

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