Morrissey

Ringleader of the Tormentors (Sanctuary)

SXSW Records

Morrissey

Ringleader of the Tormentors (Sanctuary)

Ah, Morrissey. The only man in pop with the chutzpah to title his songs "Dear God, Please Help Me" and "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now," and the talent to bring them off. Middle age suits the Mozzer: His rich, near-operatic voice continues to ripen, and his peculiar blend of bravado, sly wit, and self-loathing is in fine form on this, his eighth solo album. Enlisting producer Tony Visconti was wise, as the Bowie and T. Rex veteran gives the songs the lush arrangements Morrissey's purple lyrics deserve. Opener "I Will See You in Far Off Places" has a tinge of mysticism gone to seed, Morrissey expertly playing the guru who can't get out of bed. Delectable single "You Have Killed Me" revisits his Viva Hate days, while rockers "The Youngest Was the Most Loved" and "To Me You Are a Work of Art" nod to Visconti's previous clients. Slower numbers, chiefly "Dear God" and "Life Is a Pigsty," which somehow manages not to drown in its seven-minute pathos, reveal a crooner not far removed from (Sir) Tom Jones or Robbie Williams. Yes, it can be overwrought and insufferable, but it's Morrissey, for Pete's sake, the FBI's most wanted, and yours too. (Thursday, March 16, 9;30pm @ Austin Music Hall)

***.5

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