Critical Voices: Morrissey

February 19, 2009

The best time to listen to Morrissey is the morning after you were much drunker than everyone else you went out with the night before. You don’t know the details of your midnight marauding, but you don’t want to see anyone who saw you in your drunken state. Take advantage of this moment—it’s the only time you’ll want to listen to Morrissey’s latest album, Years of Refusal.

Morrissey’s oeuvre is often tagged as sad bastard music, but it’s more like music for people who feel disliked. On his 2004 comeback You Are the Quarry, Morrissey asked his lover to imagine someone better looking when they kissed.

The misanthropy and self-disgust is fine when you deserve it, but Morrissey’s best work brings something else, too—mirth. Quarry has a dreamy song about L.A. gang wars, and the Smiths were all about meeting Oscar Wilde in graveyards. The closest Refusal comes to being fun, though, is “All You Need is Me,” which sneers but doesn’t smile. If that kind of stuff floats your boat, Refusal will keep you company in the dark.

Voice’s Choices: “When Last I Spoke to Carol,” “All You Need Is Me”

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