Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors

morrissey_ringleaderI don’t know what the reviews said; I don’t know what the raincoated lover’s puny brothers said… all I know is that this record is classic Morrissey.

I was thrown by the whole Moz 2.0 thing that happened a couple of years ago: glad to have him back; a little perturbed by the glossiness of the record and his open courting of his ridiculous public persona. (Had Morrissey become the Michael Jackson of mope rock and lost his real identity in the exaggerations and innuendo?) But his live show was spectacular and when you heard the songs out of context of the record, they usually carried their own weight so I eagerly awaited the next move.

Which was, seemingly, re-issue, repackage, repackage — a live album and DVD, an expanded release of Quarry, a re-examination of his career.

But after that smoke cleared, he finally set to work on a follow-up to Quarry and moreso than that album’s re-introduction to Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors is Morrissey as Morrissey.

Tormentors is as good as any of the classic Morrissey catalog. It tempers the aggression of Southpaw Grammar with the depression of Vauxhall and I. In other words, it’s like a dark Your Arsenal. The individual songs are great and the overall mood is fantastic. Where Quarry reminded that Moz existed, Tormentors reminds us why.