Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors

Ringleader of the Tormentors


First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2006, Volume 13, #4

Written by John Metzger


Typically, Morrissey has expressed his anger, his disappointment, and his disgust via the biting cynicism of his self-pitying lyrics. On Ringleader of the Tormenters, however, the full range of his emotions fully seeps into his music. Throughout the set, he, guitarist Jesse Tobias, and producer Tony Visconti parlay the dense layers of sound that they concocted into a weirdly aggressive aural assault. On I Will See You in Far Off Places, Morrissey’s tirade against American imperialism, he conjures the wartime fury of bombers in flight over a Middle Eastern land; and during the defiant, Who-infused rock of I Just Want to See the Boy Happy, he uses a driving beat and hard-charging guitars to keep his never-ending misery at bay. Elsewhere, he scatters tales about serial killers (The Youngest Was the Most Loved), dysfunctional families (The Father Who Must Be Killed), and lost love (I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero), and he enhances the songs’ dramatic tensions with Ennio Morricone’s sweeping string arrangements as well as the sinister backing vocals provided by an Italian children’s choir. Initially, the material is so overpoweringly dark — Life is a Pigsty, for example, is a wonderfully bilious, seven-minute opus — that one is apt to miss the light that is sequestered inside. Yet, from the super-sexed Dear God, Please Help Me to the world-be-damned sentimentality of To Me You Are a Work of Art, Morrissey finds ways of romancing his new partner while still allowing his psychic wounds to bleed. Expressions like "there are explosive kegs between my legs" undoubtedly will make his detractors grimace, but Ringleader of the Tormentors is a prime example of Morrissey deftly blurring the lines that divide love from hate and life from death as only he can. bulletbulletbulletbullet

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box