The Spinners

Ringleader of the Tormentors (Morrissey, 2006)

In Alternative Rock, British, Dodo Dayao on January 6, 2010 at 9:40 am

Morrissey does Rome:  the Pope of Mope in the land of the Pope of . . . um, Popes.  Spot-on, in many ways: florid Catholicism and the severity of its conflicts backdropping the schisms he’s fond of—love/lust, God/sex, spirit/flesh, death/love. Milieu is the only palpable autobiography you can tease from this, though. But that’s forever part of the emotive allure of every Moz record, magnum opus or piece of cowdung, of which this is neither—the parade of bait-and-switch personas he suits up as. Is “The Father Who Must Be Killed”, with its eerily disembodied voices of Satan’s choirboys egging homicide on, his own stepfather or even for real?  Is “I Will See You In Far-off Places” a valentine to a lover, to the Middle East, to a lover in the Middle East or a bloody one to Osama himself?  Is he flaunting those “explosive kegs between my legs” on “Dear God Please Forgive Me” with Ennio Morricone’s labyrinthine arrangement?  Is the “one true love. . . under the ground” of  “I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero Now” his? He likens himself to a young, flaming Pasolini—in the record’s few poplike moments “You Have Killed Me”—but it’s just for geographic nuance.  Pasolini, too, was a European exiled in Rome.  The post-comeback’s really stickier with the vagabond eroticism of Genet.  Muting hooks he does have a knack for, the rockabilly allegedly strip-mined from Your Arsenal is more attitude than form. What the repertoire aims for and gets is thick, decadent melodrama. Minor-key glam, really, opulent and sinister and other.

– Dodo Dayao

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