Rhythm & Views


Morrissey's happy, sort of. You see, he left the busy highways of L.A. for the busy viae of Rome, and you could make some sort of reaching comment that the change of scenery has renewed a change of attitude in Moz. Or, you could just say the music's tone has shifted from bitter sadness to sadness.

Either way, there's no denying that Morrissey, the king of gloom, is currently in a mid-career--assuming you think he'll still make music 20 years down the road when he's nearly 70--resurgence that continues to impress. Recorded in Rome with Bowie/T. Rex producer Tony Visconti and a collective of Roman musicians, Ringleaders of the Tormentors is a pleasing addendum of sorts to 2004's You Are the Quarry.

Around most turns, there's something for new fans and old crybabies alike. There's the explosive Middle Eastern flavored opener "I Will See You in Far off Places," the mournful, sexually stymied "Dear God, Please Help Me," and the Brit, er, Itl-rocker "You Have Killed Me." Of course, there is also the excessive, like the painfully overlong "Life is a Pigsty," in which Morrissey reminds us just how messy it is again and again for more than seven minutes.

Regardless, Morrissey is a proven talent, and it's nice to hear him scoffing at expectations through the honky-tonk-filtered joy of a song like "In the Future When All's Well." Despite continuing to explore the same themes--God, love, and politics--Morrissey proves himself relevant with every change of address.

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