Your Arsenal


Sire Records, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Back when I was in college radio, I received my initiation into the moping world of The Smiths and their lead singer Morrissey via a listener request. Within time I had acquired all of the group's albums, and had begun to explore the solo career of Morrissey.

And while he always had a few good tracks on his albums, they just failed to impress me the way The Smiths did - end even their albums could be spotty at times. (This, along with the "insult" of declaring The The "okay" spelled the end of one relationship - it's hard dating a critic, she learned.)

Morrissey's 1992 release Your Arsenal contains some of his best-known tracks courtesy of alternative radio, but it also contains some of his most boring material.

The poppy songs are incredible - I am constantly impressed by Gary Day's bass work on "Tomorrow," one of the songs that originally made me want to pick up this album. (For some reason, the version I have is a Canadian release.) "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" is one of Morrissey's finest moments, featuring stellar guitar work from Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte. Even the "hidden" hits, "Glamorous Glue" and "You're The One For Me, Fatty," tend to grow on you.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But, ah, the pressures of being the melancholy Dane (even though he's British, I know) of the alternative world finally begin to take their tolls on the music. Morrissey tends to lose track of the goal - writing a decent song - by concentrating on how poetically miserable he is. "Seasick, Yet Still Docked," "The National Front Disco," "Certain People I Know".... these all could have been great songs, if they only weren't so damned boring.

And it's not that I am against Morrissey's musical view of the world - as the existentialists called it, "this bitch of life." In some senses, this is some of Morrissey's most positive music in a while - which is saying a lot. But if he could just cut down a little bit on the dramatics, this could have been a better album. I heard him the first time he proclaimed "London is dead"... he didn't have to repeat it ad nauseam. (He would sink even lower into this poetic cesspool on Vauxhall & I , an album so bad I stopped buying his solo albums.)

When he keeps hitting you over the head with these images wrapped around songs that just fail to go anywhere, you end up starting to worry about the boy. He's been on this "I-am-miserable" kick for well over a decade - I think the well really began to dry up with this release. There's only so many ways you can express boredom without becoming boring yourself. Unfortunately, Morrissey has started to cross that line.

However, one should give him some credit - he hasn't collapsed to the public pressure (and, I'm sure in some sense, pressure from his label) to reunite with the rest of his old bandmates for a reunion tour a la other groups (I won't name names, but you can guess Who ). Oh, sure, he could have taken the easy way out and made a quick pile of cash. Instead, he has chosen to slug it out on his own, come what may. For that alone, he earns my respect.

Your Arsenal does have some moments of brilliance within its short time frame, but for the most part, it fails to satisfy in the long run. Diehard Smiths and Morrissey fans will undoubtedly love it - the rest of us can wait for the eventual "best-of" collection.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.