Morrissey comes out of the gate rocking and ready to fight on this release from 2009. It’s his most vital and energetic record as a whole since 1992’s ‘Your Arsenal’ and it proves (as if there were ever any doubt) that Moz hasn’t lightened up in his middle age whatsoever. If anything, he seems to be meaner on this record than at any time in the past decade or so. This record is just as venomous as anything else that has his name on it. What’s more, Moz himself considers this record to be among his absolute finest. This rejuvenation is something that is ever so apparent on this record. So, what is it that makes this record such a strong release?
The strength of this record is that Moz seems to be at the peak of his powers as a frontman and as a personality. There isn’t a lot of shyness on this record and this is best evidenced in the opening track, “Something Is Squeezing My Skull”, which is arguably the most badass song in his extensive catalog. That is the truth of this record. Moz hasn’t so much pushed the envelope of what he does so much as he has discovered a different way of conveying what it is that he does. Perhaps he had reached a point of no longer wanting to be viewed as a vulnerable human being. Perhaps he just wanted to make a raw, rocking alternative rock record. Whatever the case may have been, this rocking vibe continues its prevalence throughout the record on the next two tracks, “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed” and “Black Cloud”. A couple of other highlight tracks on this record are, first off, “All You Need Is Me”. This song is Moz at his absolute funniest; an interesting account of how modern society directs frustration. The next is “I’m OK by Myself”, the closing track on the record, which is a truly triumphant song about the strength and power of the individual.
Moz’s voice is in excellent shape and condition on this record. He hasn’t sounded this inspired in many, many years. His backing band is just as spicy. The band sounds very tight on this record, which is one of the many reasons why it is so rocking and so purposeful. It would be in your best interest to be on Moz’s good side this time around, because nothing is safe from his tongue on this record. This is Moz at his absolute best as a solo artist (alongside ‘Years of Refusal’) and you’re missing out if you don’t listen to this record. For those of you out there who don’t like Morrissey, here’s a message for you: Stop being such a pansy. You deserve to be a subject of one his songs. There is such a thing as subjectivity, but there should be no sympathy awarded to those who can’t get on board with this record. There are no real flaws to be found on this record. Moz has the fire burning too hot this time around to be skeptical of too much.