One musical artist that I just can't ever stay away from is Morrissey. I have paid more than $40 4 times to see him live. I buy each album as soon as it comes out. I read any story I see about him in NME or any of the other British music tabloids. My screen name on virtually any message board (yeah, I am a dork) that I enter is hangthadj, an homage to a Smiths song.
A few days back I went into the brand new Luna Music on 52nd and College to pick up his newest CD, Ringleader of the Tormentors. Truth told, I'd likely mock any other band with that as a title for their album, but with Morrissey, I give it a pass. After a few days of digesting it, and granted I am less than an impartial observer, I love it.
His last studio album, You are the Quarry was hailed by virtually everyone as a magnificent comeback album. A return to form. But I never really thought he lost it. I enjoyed Malajusted, his album before that. Sure, he may never make another Viva Hate, but I can live with that. In my opinion You are the Quarry had two fantastic singles (Irish Blood, English Heart, and Last of the Gang to Die) and a load of okay songs. While this album may not have a single as instantly classic (yeah, classic) as Last of the Gang to Die, it is more solid all the way through.
I Will See You in Far off Places starts off the album fairly enough, but the next song, Dear God, Please Help Me sees Morrisey hit stride. The problem with his last few albums was that none of his slower stuff hit the epic nature of some earlier Smiths tracks or even early solo stuff. Here, with strings arranged by Ennio Morricone and lyrics comparing his lust to "powder kegs, between my legs," Morrissey's wit and sense of grandeur are back in very fine form. You Have Killed Me follows, with the most sing along chorus on the album, and a great hook. The Youngest was the Most Loved features a creepy childrens choir. And virtually every sonmg after there has merit.
The lyrics follow typical Morrissey themes, in In the Future when All is Well he sings about a great future before concluding, "the future is ended by a long dark sleep." In You Have Killed Me after pointing out his lover has more or less made him walking dead, he ends by saying, "there is no point saying this again, but I forgive you." In the 7 minute Life is a Pigsty, "even now, in my final hour I'm falling in love again..." In other words, it's still Morrissey.
Magnet Magazine pointed out what seperates this album from Morrissey's last effort was that it actually sounded like real people, in a real room, playing real instruments. I'd agree with that sentiment. You are the Quarry though brilliant at times, felt mechanical. This for some reason feels more organic, and in my opinion has an overall stronger set of songs. And for that reason, it just feels warmer, too. Maybe even more optimistic. And, yeah, I will be paying big bucks to see him again.