A Triumph For Morrissey
Scathing balladeer Morrissey returns, no longer merely a Manchester adolescent, but a well-travelled and vastly enriched performer and songwriter, as 'Ringleaders of the Tormentors' will demonstrate.
The opening song, 'I Will See You In Far Off Places' starts far from Strangeways, it's based in Iraq with suitably stirring eastern sounds amidst waves of crashing guitar, "If your God bestows protection upon you and if the USA doesn't bomb you", wails Morrissey, starting as he means to go on with an uncompromising political attack in the form of a ferocious track. The new album has been billed as "sexier" by many, but this being Morrissey, lyrics like, "There are explosive kegs between my legs", rest almost uncomfortably within shimmering sorrowful number, 'Dear God, Please Help Me'.
'You Have Killed Me' is certainly the perfect choice for the debut single with its catchy and vitriolic guitar riffs linked with a predominantly upbeat feel hooking in stray radio listeners and fans alike. Morrissey's passion doesn't appear to have dwindled with the years as the rich vocals of closing line, "Always I do forgive you", still manage to send a shiver down the spine.
'The Youngest Was The Most Loved' is a fabulous narrative, which also has that vicious ability to grab your ears with its cutting guitars, and searing melody about a boy who grows to be a killer, completed by the cries of a children's' choir. In contrast 'In The Future When All's Well' presents itself a bright rock n'roll number with classic ballsy guitar notes sneaking their way into the merry mix, here we move from the slightly embittered forgiveness of 'You Have Killed Me' to gratitude, "I thank you with all of my heart." This is a rare uncompromisingly happy gem in Morrissey's crown of woeful wonders; unusual, but its triumphant strains are far from unwelcome in this album presenting a Morrissey rejuvenated with wisdom.
'Life Is A Pigsty' starts with glorious twinkling bells and emphatic percussion which buzz through your ears before the doleful vocals kick in, even the crashing drums which resemble a thunderstorm can't ruin the brilliance of this echoing masterpiece in minor. Twinkling piano notes light up the rippling tune of 'I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now' while 'To Me You Are A Work Of Art' indulges in a reflective guitar solo while keeping up the theme of salvation from greyer days through love. Morrissey, however, will never be saccharine with his most sincerely romantic lyrics stretching to, "To me your are a work of art and I would give you my heart, that's if I had one".
With an epic introduction, 'At Last I Am Born' announces itself in a regal fashion with militant drumming and continues to sum up the album in an introspective but joyful vein. 'Ringleader of the Tormentors' sees Morrissey's acute social story telling focused more on affairs of the heart, although his scathing political eye remains ever present. Morrissey has been keen to emphasise that this album is not merely an extension of previous album, 'You Are The Quarry', but it continues to have the same resounding tracks bristling with the understated power, which has made the singer so great.