Morrissey, ‘Years of Refusal’ (Lost Highway)
Pop music doesn’t allow for many third bites at the apple, but here’s Stephen Patrick Morrissey chomping away. It’s the Dr. Dre career path: Both led epoch-defining groups, both sustained smart, healthy solo careers that collapsed with a thud in the mid-’90s, and both came roaring back to life. We look forward to a possible collabo on Detox.
Ever since You Are the Quarry in ’04, our man from Manchester has been weirdly unstoppable, making vital music, throwing exhaustingly energetic live shows, and honing in on 50 as well as or better than any rocker this side of Neil Young. Produced with you-are-there vigor by the late Jerry Finn, who helmed Quarry, Years of Refusal thunders with noise-rock bass lines, enormous drums, and big swaths of guitar distortion. Though Moz’s vocal range has narrowed with age, he still delivers brilliantly titled odes to depression (“Something Is Squeezing My Skull”) and hanging out on his own (“I’m OK By Myself”-do tell).
As a zine nerd who got onstage and changed the world, Morrissey loves reflecting on fandom and idols. “All You Need Is Me” feels aimed at his lifelong cult (“You don’t like me, but you love me / Either way you’re wrong / You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone”), while “You Were Good in Your Time” might as well be about his own bad self, always and forever a go-to topic. He’s the light that never goes out.