Morrissey was on hand tonight (Dec. 11) in London to introduce a playback of his new Polydor/Decca album, “Years of Refusal,” but he made no comment on recent reports of a Smiths reunion.
A spokesman later declined to comment on a story in the Daily Mirror claiming Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr had agreed to tour. It follows a tabloid report, swiftly denied, in October that the band would reform for the Coachella festival. In 2006, Morrissey revealed he was offered $5 million for the band to play the event.
At tonight’s event at Piccadilly’s Pigalle Club, Morrissey was introduced by recently appointed Polydor president Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, who described him as “an artist we’re all very proud of.” Standing next to a large image of the album sleeve, featuring Morrissey holding a baby, the singer joked, “That’s my son.”
“Even if you don’t like the music you are about to hear, thank you for coming,” he said. “Please, God, you’ll like it.” The album is due Feb. 16 in the U.K., but a U.S. label deal is still being finalized and will be announced next week.
The first few songs on the 12-track album suggest a more rock-oriented effort in the style of 1992’s “Your Arsenal,” beginning with the fired-up “Something Is Squeezing My Skull.” On “Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed,” Morrissey even sounds vengeful, declaring “Bailiffs with bad breath, I will slit their throats for you.”
“Black Cloud” begins as a driving rock tune, but there’s an acoustic guitar break during the song, and that’s followed by the more melodic, radio-friendly “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris.” That tune will be released as a single on Feb. 9.
Two of the album’s most commercial songs will already be familiar to fans. “All You Need Is Me” and “That’s How People Grow Up” both appeared on February’s “Greatest Hits” and were released as singles. Sandwiched between them is the curious “When Last I Spoke to Carol,” influenced by the cinematic sound of Ennio Morricone. The Italian spaghetti western composer contributed string arrangements to Morrissey’s previous set, “Ringleader Of The Tormentors.”
“You Were Good In Your Time” is a ballad, following on from the epic “It’s Not Your Birthday Any More,” which also features electronica textures and samples.
Morrissey seems to be preoccupied with his earlier legal problems once again on “Sorry Doesn’t Help”, with lyrics about lawyers “full of fake humility.” The clattering, bass-heavy closer “I’m OK by Myself,” is also stuck in the past, perhaps a little too reminiscent of 1995’s critically maligned “Southpaw Grammar.”
“Years of Refusal” was one of the last projects producer Jerry Finn worked on before his death this summer. A world tour in support of the album is set to kick off in the U.S. in February.