Love him or hate him, people take notice when Morrissey releases a new project. While the guy can’t seem to take anything in stride, as he’s now moving into his third solid decade of pissing people off in various ways, Years of Refusal is a sharp, well-executed album with the majority of the lyrics focused on loving, longing, hoping, and recovering. Oh, and there’s a bit of lashing out, melodrama and self-aggrandizing as well.
The opening “Something is Squeezing My Skull” is a shockingly crunchy, fast-paced song of defiance and admittance, and “All You Need Is Me” seems to directly address his detractors with more than a touch of bitterness. His emotional scars are laid out for perusal in forlorn tunes like “That’s How People Grow Up” and “Sorry Doesn’t Help.” While there’s plenty of his trademark crooning on songs like “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” and “Black Cloud,” the album has a driving, visceral feel that is a welcome relief from his typically soft-shelled style. Just check out the last track, “I’m OK By Myself,” and it’s easy to see that Morrissey was on a mission to blow off some steam when he made this record.