MORRISSEY >Years of Refusal

He’s rigidly stuck with the same formula for his entire solo career, and at nearly 50 years old, Morrissey knows better than to attempt a curveball. He’ll never record a trendy Danger Mouse collaboration or a Rick Rubin-assisted acoustic album, yet he reliably unveils slight but satisfying twists to his melodramatic guitar-pop.

Label: LOST HIGHWAY
Rating: ★★★★☆

He’s rigidly stuck with the same formula for his entire solo career, and at nearly 50 years old, Morrissey knows better than to attempt a curveball. He’ll never record a trendy Danger Mouse collaboration or a Rick Rubin-assisted acoustic album, yet he reliably unveils slight but satisfying twists to his melodramatic guitar-pop. Years of Refusal, his third in a string of winning records that began with 2004’s You Are the Quarry, finds Moz at his Queen Is Dead heaviest, his croon cutting through layers of thick guitars. That loudness alone is hook enough, but it also disguises some bold surprises. Beneath its irresistible Smiths-like chime, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” is rich with pastoral flourishes, while the thrilling “When I Last Spoke to Carol” pits Morrissey against a mariachi band. Refusal isn’t quite the late-period masterpiece it initially promises-some songs outlast their welcome in the final stretch-but its highlights rank among Morrissey’s finest.