Morrissey – Years of Refusal

Today we get the most recent solo album from MR 4th gender himself Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey. The album was released in 2009.

Morrissey – Years of Refusal

Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Morrissey+Years+Of+Refusal/68679885

Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Years_of_Refusal

A Year Ago: We listened to one of RC’s highest scoring albums – The Beach Boys – Petsounds

Fun Facts:  Morrissey has been accused of racism or of out-dated attitudes to race. In 1985 he stated that “all reggae is vile”, a dismissal of the genre that some found to be racially charged. He later said that this was a tongue-in-cheek answer to “wind up the right-on 1980s NME” and that he was actually a fan of much reggae music.[30][96]

In September 2010 he ignited a public controversy by describing Chinese people as a “subspecies” for their treatment of animals. In an interview with British poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage he said: “Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.”

“Morrissey has always taken great pains to maintain the ‘undecidable’ nature of his sexuality.” In 1983 he claimed to be “a kind of prophet for the fourth sex,” on the grounds that he was “bored with men and … bored with women.” In 1984, he stated that he refused “to recognize the terms hetero-, bi-, and homo-sexual” because “everybody has exactly the same sexual needs”.

Seth:

Preconceptions: This was a curiosity pick of mine. I am a fan of his work with the Smiths and his last two albums but haven’t gotten around to this one.

Charming Men: Black Cloud feels like it’d make a great 50s C&W song. I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris is the classic cartoonishly heartbreak I come to Morrissey for. When Last I Spoke to Carol makes me want to slap a bull.

Vulgar Pictures: Something is Squeezing My Skull is a narrative best kept between Morrissey and his Boots chemist. The long muted dialogue in You Were Good In Your Time was filler that marred a good song. If I wanted to be annoyed by annoying French speakers, I wouldn’t wear headphones in my cube.

Overall: After a very slow start, Years of Refusal picks up steam rather quickly. Comical melodrama isn’t a bug on a Morrissey album, it’s a feature, and Years has plenty of it for you. I’m OK by Myself manages to passive/aggressively both embrace and reject his career in mopery. It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore will draw obvious comparisons to the Smiths’ Unhappy Birthday (“I’ve come to wish you an unhappy, birthday because you’re evil and you lie, and if you should die, I may feel slightly sad but I won’t cry”). Moz’s opinions of birthday celebrations have only slightly improved in 25 years.

Morrissey’s appeal comes down to his soaring melodic voice singing dark, bitchy lyrics. While this album would never have gotten me through Jerilyn Rosenberger dumping me senior year as well as Strangeways, Here We Come managed to, but it will certainly help if the Bruins get knocked out of the playoffs.

Rating: 4.5
Prelisten guess: 4.5

Extra Credit: You Are The Quarry -Morrissey

Ali:

Morrissey – Years of Refusal

Preconceptions: For some reason I always confuse Morrissey’s involvement in the Smiths with that other guys involvement in the Cure. I know that there is a long-standing joke about him being an a**hole, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I don’t really research an artist. If I like the music, I like the music.

Mood:  Decent.

After Listening:  Listening to Morrissey is as much of a bi-polar rollercoaster in an album listening as you can get. I find myself angry with some of the tracks for being so different, then angry with things for being the same, then love some of the stuff for sounding the same. Some of the songs are beautiful and sad. Some fall along the wayside for me, discarded like the mascara soaked tissues from the dudes that didn’t understand that painting their faces was terrifying to me. Goth boys (and super goth girls that would paint masks on their faces) never realized that I stayed away from them because they looked like clowns. Looking at someone that had applied makeup after the oxycontin has kicked in is terrifying.

Favorite track/tracks:
Something is Squeezing My Skull – It started out with an Elvis Costello “What’s So Funny” style riff. I wasn’t sure I was listening to the correct album until he started listing medications.
Black Cloud – This is pretty much the lyrical mindset that I expect Morrissey to be in at all time. I also really dig his voice. I think that my appreciation for the Smiths and Morrissey are probably why I dig the Michale Graves warble in Famous Monsters (My Misfits pick for this season of Record Club).
When Last I Spoke To Carol – I want to stab a bull in honor of this song.

Least favorite track/tracks:
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris – While I dig the Morrissey that was and the often cheesy heartbreaky lyrics of the albums that got me through my highschool hopeless romantic goth phase, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this song. It feels like young Morrissey filled a time capsule with the sh*t that wouldn’t sell in the late 80s and he opened it in 2009 and shrugged before he dusted it off and headed into the recording studio.
You Were Good In Your Time – I know that people refuse to work with him, but this would have been AMAZING for me if it were a duet.

Overall (1-5 stars):  3.5

Josh:

Morrissey – Years of Refusal: Tailor made for one of my trademark 3’s.

Precon: Moody crooning and wailing. He’s another guy I’ve always meant to check out but never quite got around to it. I was thinking more Smiths era though, not sure about 2009 Morrissey. He looks like Danny Boyle on the cover.

Favorite Track: It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore
Least Favorite: You Were Good In Your Time

The whole “giminy more” thing on the first song felt icky. Sometimes the liberties singers take with pronunciation makes my skin crawl. The most common offense is when they only say half of a word at the end of a line. Likely a me problem.
It’s more upbeat than I expected. The music is kind of generic though.
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris reminds me of that woman who married the Eiffel Tower.
I like the idea behind It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore. Just a great way to say F you.
You Were Good In Your Time might be better for long time fans of Morrissey, but it still didn’t have to end with 2 minutes of spooky sounds and faint French radio programs.
The album plugged along a lot easier than I thought it would, only dragging a little at the end. Morrissey displays a good amount of wit and a heaping portion of self involvement to go along with his unique vocals. The main problem for me is the band seems out of place. Maybe it’s just that I was expecting something different, but they seem like your average late 90’s alt rock band, like Bush or something. At first, I was relieved it was so accessible, but after a while, I wished it wasn’t.

Magic the Gathering Card: Broodstar

Marissa:

Morrissey-Years of Refusal

Preconceived Notions:  Well I generally know what to expect from The Smiths and I feel like I enjoy that.  I’m not certain about a Morrissey solo album.  He seems like an “interesting” character to say the least.  I have this feeling that he considers himself above everyone, including his fans, and I’m not sure how much ego one album can withstand.  I want to like it, but suppose we’ll see.

As Listening:
“Something Is Squeezing My Skull”…and I think it’s this song. And the repetitive “Don’ Gimmeany More” that takes up the second half of the song.  Does someone happen to have a Diazepam?
“Mama Lay Softly on The Riverbed” well this is more comfortingly Smiths-y.  Although the lyrics for some reason make me feel like I’m watching some overwrought Ren fair, volunteer theater version of Hamlet.
“I’m throwing my arms around Paris”-I really like the guitar on this one
“All You Need Is Me” was going quite strong until the tongue rolls and gibberish at the very, very end.  Still, I like it more than dislike it
“When Last I Met Carol”-I always wondered what it would be like to be running with the bulls while having Morrissey pumped through my ipod..Andale, andale  Arriba, arriba!! It’s what I imagine would have been the theme song to a late 90-s telenovela written by Jack Black’s character in “High Fidelity”.
“It’s Not Your Birthday”-Someone needs to reign in that oboe, or I’m pretty sure that’s an oboe.  I would like this track if it was at the end of a John Hughes movie or during a montage where it’s raining really hard and the lead character is looking up at the sky in an accusatory manner.  It’s so dramatic though and there’s just so much going on, I just feel distracted and restless
“You were good in your time” this is like the sonic embodiment of melodrama.  Was the murmured French dialogue supposed to class up the joint?

After Listening: I’m really not sure where to begin sorting out my feelings about this album.  The only word that I can think of that would really describe it is simply “overdone”.  On the positive side, for Morrissey’s age, his voice has held up remarkably well.  However, I can’t escape the feeling that this is one of those cases where someone took something so seriously that I, in turn, find it almost silly.  This time, not in a hilarious way, there’s too much of a foundation there that I like, but more in a sad, silly way.  The lyrics are a mess to me and the arrangements seem overloaded.  I can understand the draw of teenagers to The Smiths now, and can imagine that Fallout Boy and all of their copy bands were probably HUGE fans, and fans of Morrissey too.  That’s not really a slight as I do have Fallout Boy on my gym playlist. But you know what I mean, the pseudo-poetic lyrics, the bombast of layered backing.  Anyway, some of the lyrics forced rhymes are painful:

“You made me feel less alone
You made me feel not quite so
Deformed, uninformed and hunchbacked”

Oy.  And it just, overall has this feeling of Ms. Havisham about it.  Like, something that once used to be great, and even greater in one’s own mind, turning on itself without realizing it.  Perhaps I would have appreciated a simpler approach.  Perhaps it turns out that what I like about The Smiths is Johnny Marr, perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood, but this album just didn’t hit me the way I wanted it to.  Perhaps my own high expectations harmed my reception of it as well.  I think I’ll go and listen to “Girlfriend In A Coma” on repeat now.

Overall: 2.8
Favorites: When Last I Met Carol/ Sorry Doesn’t Help
Least Favorites: Something Is Squeezing My Skull/You Were Good In Your Time

Mike:

Preconceived Notions: I have a vague sense of Morrissey as some random crooner lying just on the outskirts of mainstream music – in that he’s way more popular than he would allow himself to think.  I feel like I’m in danger of a rather slow, melodramatic offering…

After Listening: Well, blissfully that was short.  At under 45mins one thing you can’t blame good old Morrissey for is rambling.  Good for him.  You know though, for a “guy” that boasts rather loudly about being above sexuality he spends a lot-and I mean virtually the entire album moaning about relationships in some form. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.  I mean one or two songs about moral superiority – ok you’re just airing things out- an entire album and well…it’s not to hard to figure out you’re damaged dude – and if you didn’t need anyone saying that once or twice would suffice just fine.  And this would be passable if the music was some interesting collection of angsty dark shadows, or brooding deep explorations…but we don’t get much of that. We get some semi competent punk, and a lot of bland rock, with weird moans – some stylistic lounge approaches (albeit those are very generic) but track to track we get little more than a basic backdrop for Morrissey’s relentlessly preachy assault.  I’ll grant that this album was not in the music mood I anticipated (and maybe even dreaded), but it’s certainly not much of a step up from my worst fears.

Favorite Track: When Last I spoke to Carol – sure it’s basic accompaniment is nearly offensively generic Spanish, but at least the thing has a little tone color.
Least Favorite Track:  All you need is Me – Terrible rock.  “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone” – Can we try that out?  Starting now?

Overall 1.97 This album really could’ve been 1 or 2 songs long for all the musical thought that was put into them.  And, I can’t prove it, but I bet if I go through Morrissey’s catalogue I’ll find them replicated over and over and over again (and judging from his wide acclaim – they would have to have been done better).  Individually the tracks are not particularly offensive, but when taken as a whole and you get to the 3rd or forth song where Morrissey’s nearly teenagesque lyrical repetition hits you – the album starts to feel way longer than it should.  I don’t know if this is an artist mailing it in after a long career, or if this really is something he’s proud of….but I’m passing either way.

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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