Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors

Morrissey
Ringleader Of The Tormentors

Things I learned from Morrissey’s latest album…

…that there’s a typo in the album title – it should be Ringleader Of The ‘Tormented’, no, or has he gone to the other side?

…that Johnny Marr and his guitar (from The Smiths) are sorely missed, as always.

…that the boys’ choir harmonizes so innocently and sweetly on the darnedest of chorus lines, like “There is no such thing in life as normal” and “The father who must be killed.”

…that Morrissey just really doesn’t like Pittsburgh. On “On The Street I Ran” he ends the song with “…take anyone, take people from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – just spare me.”. Wow, bite your tongue, Morrissey!

…that the killer couplets and bilious barbs are fewer and farther between. There are, however, some lovely ones, like “The youngest was the most loved, the youngest was the cherub, we kept him from the world’s glare, and he turned into a killer.” (“The Youngest Was The Most Loved”); “Living longer than I had intended, something must have gone right.” (“In The Future When All Is Well”); “The father who must be killed, with his dying breath he grabs her hand and he looks into her eyes – he says ‘I’m sorry.’…and he dies.” (“The Father Who Must Be Killed”); “…I’ve been shifting gears all my life but I’m still the same underneath – this you surely knew.” (“Life Is A Pigsty”); “They would should love me walk right through me. I am a ghost and as far as I know I haven’t even died.” (“I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero”); “All these streets can do is claim to know the real you.” (“On The Street I Ran”); and, saving the best for last – “To me you are a work of art, and I would give you my heart, that’s if I had one.” (“To Me You Are A Work Of Art”).

…that Morrissey is actually trying to play it “straight-forward” on many of the songs – all heartfelt professions of love and loss. Is Morrissey becoming the crashing bore he abhors? Is his reportedly content and stable love life and pampered existence in Los Angeles and Rome interfering with his musical work? Has he lost whatever miserable, messed-up edge he had? Take, for instance: “Now I am walking through Rome and there is no room to move, but the heart feels free…” (“Dear God, Please Help Me”); “I thank you with all of my heart.” (“In The Future When All Is Well”); and “Every second of my life I only live for you.” (“Life Is A Pigsty”).

…that he continues to push all the tried ‘n’ true buttons, i.e., railing against the U.S. in “I Will See You In Far Off Places” (“If your god bestows protection upon you and if the USA doesn’t bomb you, I believe I will see you somewhere safe…”) and organized religion “…no Bible-belters to mess with me…” (“The Father Who Must Be Killed”), tackling killer kids on not one, but two songs (“The Youngest Was The Most Loved” and “The Father Who Must Be Killed”), illuminating the world of the working-class (“On The Street I Ran”), and waxing on about various forms of love (“Dear God, Please Help Me”, “You Have Killed Me”, “Life Is A Pigsty”, “I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero”, “To Me You Are A Work Of Art”, “I Just Want To See The Boy Happy”, etc…).

…that some of the songs don’t quite live up to their titles. Usually Morrissey’s vocal delivery and lyrics are enough to sustain my interest, but this time, I can only take so much repetition and stretching out of his lyrics. Morrissey’s voice is still sublimely wistful, if a little less powerful than before – but cool song titles like “You Have Killed Me”, “In The Future When All Is Well”, “Life Is A Pigsty”, and “I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero” get tired fast and lose their meaning when warbled as lyrics over and over again.