Morrissey – Your Arsenal

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Sorry, Moz; what I’ve long believed to be your best solo album doesn’t hold up upon repeated listens. I came back to this one prepared to give it a B+ and bash NME who wrote off this album because its pro-English overtones and vague xenophobic undertones which is actually super-ironic considering that that sentence describes NME to a tee; go to any of their “best of” lists and let me know if the ratio of British artists to non-British artists seems even close to the representative of the world. But it seems I had forgotten how Morrissey is no replacement for either David Bowie (compare “Glamorous Glue” to “Jean Genie,” which wasn’t very good in the first place) or T. Rex (compare “Certain People I Know” to “Ride a White Swan”); forgotten how “Seasick, Yet Still Docked” goes on for 5 minutes when back in the old days, him and Johnny Marr would’ve knocked it out of the park in half that time; forgotten how a lot of these songs are, as NME‘s Andrew Collins describes it, “the sound of five men bashing around in the darkness in search of a tune” (the criticism was specific to “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful,” but that song is blissfully short at the very least and has a delicious bass fill at the very end courtesy of Gary Day and is really the least of our worries).

All that being said, I didn’t forget the highlights. “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side” is a heady rush of guitars that best recalls glam rock without having to forcibly do so (what, with Gary Day’s rockabilly basslines), while Morrissey drops an indelible hook that could either be taken as his reinvorgated solo career after Kill Uncle or as one of his more romantic gestures. “You’re the One for Me, Fatty,” which is a helluva lot more juvenile than “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” might be the catchiest Morrissey song, solo career or otherwise. (Get it? It’s another ambiguous song because the word fatty can refer to both a zaftig girl or a joint! Yeah, I fucking get it.) And “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” which I heard was inspired “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” as was expecting another write-off, but is actually really successful in its blend of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic radio transmissions. Still though, the best Morrissey album you can have is the one you make yourself, and this has more highlights than a lot of his other ones, so…

B

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