Years of Refusal

Years of Refusal
Years of Refusal
Studio album by Morrissey
Released 16 February 2009 (2009-02-16)
Recorded Autumn–Winter 2007/May 2008
Genre Alternative rock, indie rock
Length 43:25
Label Decca/Polydor (UK)
Attack/Lost Highway (US)
Producer Jerry Finn
Morrissey chronology
Ringleader of the Tormentors
Years of Refusal
Singles from Years of Refusal
  1. "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
    Released: 9 February 2009
  2. "Something Is Squeezing My Skull"
    Released: 27 April 2009

Years of Refusal is the ninth solo album by Morrissey. Distributed by Decca in the UK and Lost Highway in the US, it was released on 16 February 2009 in the UK and on 17 February 2009 in the US.[1] Morrissey has described his newest album, the follow-up to 2006's UK #1 record Ringleader of the Tormentors, as his "strongest work to date".[2][3]


Recording and release

Recording for the album commenced in late November and ended in late December 2007 in Los Angeles at Conway Recording Studios. Mixing began in early February 2008. An additional track for the album was recorded in late May according to drummer Matt Walker.[4] Keyboardist Michael Farrell left the band prior to the album's completion so Morrissey recruited Roger Manning to fill in. Manning previously played on Morrissey's 2004 album You Are The Quarry. Manning had this to say about the recording of the album:

I've spent over six weeks recording with Morrissey and his incredible band for what will hopefully become his latest solo effort later this year. Producer Jerry Finn and I have had a long fun filled history together in Punk Pop heaven with groups like blink-182 and found ourselves both being invited back for our second Morrissey album. I think fans will be pleasantly surprised by this new solo offering. It was all tracked live which added a great punk, garage, DIY urgency to the tracks. I am so used to recording keyboards in the more traditional overdub scenario that being asked to invent parts "on the fly" and track with the band while Morrissey sang live was a very refreshing and challenging experience.[5]

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live with Tony Visconti, the producer stated that his new project would be "the next Morrissey album", though that this would not be forthcoming for at least a year. However, in an interview with the BBC News website in October 2007, Morrissey said that the album was already written and ready for a possible Autumn 2008 release. In December, Morrissey signed a new deal with Decca Records, which included a Greatest Hits album and a newly-recorded album to follow in Autumn 2008.[6]

It was announced in November 2007 that Jerry Finn, the man behind Morrissey's 2004 album You Are the Quarry, would be producing the new album instead of Tony Visconti.[7] A reason for the change was rumored to be related to Kristeen Young, Morrissey's opening act at the time, and Visconti's supposed involvement. Further "proof" of this rumor is the occurrence of L.A. radio station INDIE 103.1's Joe Escalante leaking that Jerry Finn was the producer of the new album the day following Kristeen Young's firing from the 2007/2008 'Greatest Hits' tour. This was also a full week before the official announcement from Decca that Jerry Finn was to produce the new album.

However, in a June 2008 interview with Hot Press magazine Morrissey cleared up the issue:

Tony wasn't ever in line for the job. He had started working with a band, Kentucky, and tied himself up with that. I wanted to try Jerry Finn again - he had produced You Are the Quarry, and we were in the enviable situation of having worked both with Tony and Jerry and had really enjoyed both. I'd love to do another album with Tony, and I feel blessed to have eventually found two ideal producers. They are both fantastic in equal measure. I wish I had met them earlier.

On 30 May 2008, posted the following on Morrissey's 2008 album:

Morrissey's new studio album Years of Refusal is now complete, and is set for a September release by Polydor UK (Universal). It has yet to be decided which Universal label will release the album in the US. Years of Refusal has 12 tracks and is produced by Jerry Finn.[8]

Of the twelve tracks, current guitarist Boz Boorer has written four[9] and former guitarist Alain Whyte has written five.[10] The remaining three tracks are Jesse Tobias compositions. Though he wrote nearly half the songs on the album Whyte did not participate in the recording. Years of Refusal marks the first time since 1992's Your Arsenal that Alain Whyte has not performed on a Morrissey album. Featured tracks "That's How People Grow Up", "All You Need Is Me", "Something Is Squeezing My Skull", "Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed", "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" and "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell", were all debuted on Morrissey's 2007/2008 Greatest Hits tour. The photo on the album cover for Years of Refusal is a portrait by Jake Walters. The baby pictured with Morrissey is Sebastien Pesel-Browne, who is the son of Charlie Browne, Morrissey's assistant tour manager. Sebastien's mother met Charlie at a Morrissey concert in Boston.[11]

Originally Years of Refusal was to be released on 15 September 2008 in the UK and 16 September 2008 in the US. However, the album's release date was delayed until 2 February 2009 at the request of Decca UK so Morrissey could have time to shop for a new label to distribute the album in the US after he withdrew from Decca US for their 'poor promotion of his Greatest Hits release'.[12] It was also later announced that 23 February 2009 would be the new release date for Years of Refusal. Finally, in a press release from Universal Music it was announced that the final release date for the album would be 16 February 2009 with the first single, "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris", preceding the album a week earlier on 9 February 2009.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[13]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[14]
Mojo 3/5 stars[15]
NME (8/10)[16]
The Observer 4/5 stars[17]
Pitchfork Media (8.1/10)[18]
Q 3/5 stars[19]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[20]
Spin 4/5 stars[21]
Uncut 4/5 stars[22]

On 11 December 2008, Morrissey, along with Polydor president Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, unveiled Years of Refusal in London to a select group of journalists with a special listening of the album at Piccadilly's Pigalle Club. First impressions of the album were universally positive.[23][24][25]

Early reviews of the album suggest a return to the form of You Are the Quarry, ClashMusic commenting that it is "in a word, 'brilliant'" and that "it’s hard to listen to this album and not conclude that it’s one of his best as a solo artist".[26]

Pitchfork Media, along with giving the album an 8.1 rating, lauded Years of Refusal highly for its "rejuvenation" of Morrissey:

Years of Refusal comes as a gratifying shock: It's his most vital, entertaining, and savage record since 1994's Vauxhall and I. Rather than try and reinvent himself, Morrissey has rediscovered himself, finding new potency in his familiar arsenal. Morrissey's rejuvenation is most obvious in the renewed strength of his vocals.

For much of Years of Refusal Morrissey is turning his fire outwards-- taking on lovers, enemies, wannabes, or some combination of all three. This is Morrissey's most venomous, score-settling album, and in a perverse way that makes it his most engaging.[27]

Spin, having given the album a four star rating, had this to say:

Ever since You Are the Quarry in ’04, our man from Manchester has been weirdly unstoppable, making vital music, throwing exhaustingly energetic live shows, and honing in on 50 as well as or better than any rocker this side of Neil Young. Produced with you-are-there vigor by the late Jerry Finn, who helmed Quarry, Years of Refusal thunders with noise-rock bass lines, enormous drums, and big swaths of guitar distortion. Though Moz’s vocal range has narrowed with age, he still delivers brilliantly titled odes to depression (“Something Is Squeezing My Skull”) and hanging out on his own (“I’m OK By Myself” –do tell).[28]

Q magazine, who gave the album a three star rating, praised and criticized the album saying:

Years of Refusal combines the pugnacious swing of You Are the Quarry with the physicality of Ringleader of the Tormentors, an attack on morality and mortality that shows off Morrissey's abundant gifts as much as it shows up his flaws.

So there is that fabulous voice, the felicitous turn of phrase, the ability to hit universal truths that transcend one middle-aged Mancunian's ingrained sense of being hard-done-by -- but there's also too much grudge-bearing, too much self-justification, too much undistinguished guitar thump.[29]

John Earls of Planet Sound saw the album as a return to form in his 8 out of 10 rating;[30]

Sauntering back to form after the ho-hum Tormentors, Morrissey's recent muscular rock is at its peak here. From the opening thwack of Skull on, there's a belligerent confidence matched by the taunting lyrics. Amongst the chiding, Paris is romantic, Carol is typically fine melancholia and the shipwrecked coda to Sorry is troubled and unsettling. There's still acres of mystery to uncover here.

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Something Is Squeezing My Skull"   Morrissey/Alain Whyte 2:38
2. "Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed"   Morrissey/Whyte 3:53
3. "Black Cloud"   Morrissey/Boz Boorer 2:48
4. "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"   Morrissey/Boorer 2:31
5. "All You Need Is Me"   Morrissey/Jesse Tobias 3:13
6. "When Last I Spoke to Carol"   Morrissey/Whyte 3:24
7. "That's How People Grow Up"   Morrissey/Boorer 2:59
8. "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell"   Morrissey/Boorer 2:57
9. "It's Not Your Birthday Anymore"   Morrissey/Whyte 5:10
10. "You Were Good in Your Time"   Morrissey/Whyte 5:01
11. "Sorry Doesn't Help"   Morrissey/Tobias 4:03
12. "I'm OK by Myself"   Morrissey/Tobias 4:48
iTunes U.S. bonus tracks[31]
No. Title Writer(s) Length
13. "Because of My Poor Education"   Morrissey/Whyte 2:56
14. "Shame Is the Name"   Morrissey/Whyte 3:49

Special Edition DVD

  1. "Wrestle with Russell" (an interview with Russell Brand)
  2. "That's How People Grow Up" (Performed live on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross)
  3. "All You Need Is Me" (Performed live on Later... with Jools Holland)
  4. "All You Need Is Me" (Promotional video)

Chart positions

Chart (2009) Peak
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders) 8
Finnish Albums Chart[32] 10
Mexican Albums Chart[33] 29
Swedish Albums Chart[34] 5
UK Albums Chart[35] 3
U.S. Billboard 200[36] 11


The band

Additional credits


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