Monday, March 06, 2006

When Moz Attacks

“Ringleader of the Tormentors”

The problem with being a pop star that people have grown up with is that in order to continue to have a career you have two choices: you either grow up with your audience, and allow your music to evolve (i.e. Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper) or you find yourself making the same music or convoluted versions of it in order to stay in the minds of the youth (i.e. The Cure, Madonna, Duran Duran).

The Pope of Mope, Morrissey, has opted for the former, and his large catalog of solo work has been a natural progression, though his punk rock ethos remains the same. Morrissey still criticizes the government, his peers and is still trying to mend his heart, but his vehicle for doing those things are no longer brash or even comparable to his contemporaries. You can’t put Robert Smith and Moz on the same page anymore. One is a cultish rock star and the other is a crooner.

A continuation of his last record, “You Are the Quarry,” “Ringleader of the Tormentors” sees Morrissey putting a bit more polish to his rock boot. He’s still rolling his R’s, he’s still attacking global policies, but he’s eloquent and welcoming.

“In the Future When All’s Well,” “Dear, God Please Help Me,” and the single “You Have Killed Me” are moody, morose rock songs that you can play at a funeral, Bar Mitzvah, or a senior citizens dance party.

Other standout songs include “I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero” and “I Just Want to See the Boy Happy,” and though they revisit some of “Quarry’s” familiar themes, they are still refreshing.

As a few more grey hairs appear on Moz’s head, his music continues grow and though “Ringleader of the Tormentors” is basically a sequel to “You Are the Quarry,” (and possibly trite in that sense), it’s a far better record than the people who are trying to be like Morrissey in his heyday and the people who eclipsed The Smiths 20 years ago.


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