Morrissey - Ringleader Of The Tormentors

Morrissey is more than just another musician, he's a way of life. Once you've heard Morrissey you're taken for life and you ride through his high points and his low point and yet you stay with him like an Accrington Stanley supporter faithful to the end hoping that one day he come to his former glories. This correspondent first started following Morrissey bizarrely enough in Ayia Napa, avoiding the bling bling that was inhabiting the island at the time I settled down with The Smiths Volume 1, the next day I went back and bought Volume 2 and the holiday was spend being one of those lazy sunbathers with Sun, not a lot of sex (well I was only 12 at the time) and lots of Smiths. How old Mozzer would have been proud?

"Ringleader Of The Tormentors" is being tagged by many as Morrissey's "sex" album. Graphic for sure, but not necessary anymore than the playfulness of "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others". Except, shock horror, this time a few of the lyrics allude to members of the same sex as if Smiths fans of supposed to reel back and say you know what we never had a clue. As we all know reading through Morrissey's lyrics are like reading a thinly veiled portrayal of how Morrissey wants to be perceived at any given time (remember the boxer phase, the I take E's phase and celibate Moz) so it's perhaps more interesting to ask how it stands up as a musical entity rather than rehash the same lyrics you'll read in each and every review.

"Dear God, Please Help Me" touches on the crooning, almost gospel leanings, that we've experienced on "Maladjusted" and "Vauxhall And I". Partly Elvis, Partly Frank Sinatra it's a love song in the classic vein. "You Have Killed Me", we all know by now, grows with time from it's underwhelming first listen. Whether it's the charming bouncy bassline or the way the chorus builds before dropping out again as the guitar riffs crash around him. Like many of the tracks on the album "The Youngest Was The Most Loved" allows Mozzer vocals to really soar and whereas on "You Are The Quarry" the lyrics were spat out, this time they're a soothing massaging effect. The children's choir on this track singing "there is no such thing as normal" is strangely unsettling but overall it works.

Elsewhere on "In The Future When All's Where" he reference's T-Rex, "The Father Who Must Be Killed" has a Bowie-esque stomp, "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now" an Oasis like simplicity. Perhaps the biggest surprise is "Life Is A Pigsty" where Morrissey sounds as he's been transported to late 80s Madchester with an almost 808 style dance soundtrack. The closing track "At Last I Am Born" is a genuinely disjointed track veering between a piano ballad and acoustic mexicana track complete with interjections from a choir.

Morrissey has always been a compelling lyricist, even on his weaker musical moments, and this album is one where both the lyrics and music are as highly charged as each other. "Ringleaders Of The Tormentors" is an album which is full of pop hooks, but at the same time is a experimental and entirely original piece of work. The bookends to the album "I Will See You In Far Off Places" and "At Last I Am Born" have a cinematic widescreen quality which befits his years and many would say that this is one of the finest moments of his career to date

Alex McCann

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