Picks and Pans Review: Your Arsenal
As front man and lyricist for the Smiths, the '80s British doom-and-gloom darlings, the long-sideburned Morrissey became the unofficial poster boy of hip listless-ness. Some of the Smiths' despairing song titles probably left Patsy Cline weeping in her grave: "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"; "Girlfriend in a Coma."
Aside from his delightfully mournful 1988 solo debut, Viva Hate, Morrissey's post-Smiths work has been anemic—and that's not meant as a compliment. But on Your Arsenal, his fourth effort, he pulls back from the brink of self-parody and delivers some of his strongest tunes yet.
Several of the songs prove as striking as their titles ("Glamorous Glue," whose theme is the decline of English culture, and the love song "You're the One for Me, Fatty"). On the brisk rocker "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side," he extends his hand to an overburdened friend. He mocks trendiness with a breezy melody on "Certain People I Know." And, of course, there are the morbid downers ("Seasick, Yet Still Docked" and "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday"). Wouldn't be Morrissey without them, bless his bummed-out soul. (Sire /Reprise)