Morrissey
Your Arsenal


3.0
good

Review

by Amanda Murray STAFF
March 29th, 2005 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist


The early 90s were a difficult time for Morrissey's career. An icon of the 80s, his first album of the new decade, Kill Uncle - released in 1991, was nothing short of a disaster. Eons below the quality of his solo debut Viva Hate, and incomparable to his work with the Smiths. Fortunately things turned around in 1992 with the release of the phenomenal Your Arsenal.

There is probably one word that sums up Morrissey best: inconsistent. He's released what I consider to be in the running for one of the best songs of the 80s, if not serious contender for one of the better songs of all modern music, in the form of "There is a Light That Never Goes Out". He was also responsible for the steaming heap that was Kill Uncle. So naysayers weren't being unrealistic when they predicted the end of Morrissey's career, or at least popularity, in 1991. But Morrissey's inconsistency proved true: for every valley, there is an equally large mountain.

In 1992, Morrissey was back. 1990 and 91 were transitional years. Morrissey had just severed his songwriting ties with composer/producer Stephen Street (whose proficient songwriting is displayed on Viva Hate), and it wasn't until '92 that he began working with a "young rockabilly band". The result of the creative spark spurred by the new music source (namely guitarist Alain Whyte at this time) was Your Arsenal, which rivals Vauxhall and I as Morrissey's best album. Perhaps Vauxhall and I is "better", but Arsenal is certainly more fun to listen to.

From the opening roar of "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" to the gentle piano fadeout of "Tomorrow", Your Arsenal is a solid record through and through. Pre-You are the Quarry, this is likely Morrissey's most successful album, at least in America. Partial credit can be given to certain publicity "scandals" that were spurred by this album's release, namely the infamous NME article on Morrissey's supposed racism and neo-Nazism. I won't detail it here as it has more to do with Morrissey than Your Arsenal, but the negative publicity prompted both interest in the album, and disinterest in anything associated with Morrissey. Some of these complaints and accusations are absolutely truthful, if you take his lyrics to heart. In "We'll Let You Know", Morrissey proclaims, "We may seem cold, or we may even be the most depressing people you've ever known. At heart, what's left, we sadly know, that we are the last truly British people you'll ever know.

Nationalistic lyrics? It's undeniable. Morrissey further extends these sentiments with the song "National Front Disco". The title is indication enough of its lyrics - the line "England for the English" expands on this. Some defend his lyrics as being just that - lyrics. Tales of characters, like David in "National Front Disco". Others state that these are Morrissey's opinions. In England he was shunned; in America, he was a hit. This was a pretty big deal at the time. Now it will probably merit no more than a mere mention, if that, in most reviews or articles on Morrissey. Additionally, Morrissey promoted this album moreso than any of his albums, Smiths or otherwise, pre-Quarry. 5 music videos from a 10-song album is quite impressive, especially for an artist who avoided videos throughout his career with the Smiths.

So the buzz around the album was significant, the publicity surrounding both Morrissey and Your Arsenal was at a peak. And Morrissey did not disappoint, though he had ample opportunity to. He gave fans most of what they wanted - interviews, concert and festival appearances, music videos. He gave critics most of what they wanted: a catchy, fillerless album with good lyrics. Of course he couldn't do what he has yet to do to this day, and never will - surpass the Smiths. But it was a fair attempt.

On to the album itself. At least than 40 minutes, it is hardly an epic record, but it is concise. Unlike future albums like Southpaw Grammar, whose songs were padded to the brim, Your Arsenal keeps the listener entertained throughout 10 songs, any of which would easily be at home on the radio. Even on the first listen, it is evident that songs such as "Tomorrow" and "We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful" are instant classics.

Even with a new musical style miles from the jangle-pop of Johnny Marr with the Smiths, and the attempt at neo-doowop/rockabilly (which Morrissey and his band perfect in later years) on Kill Uncle, it is evident that this is Morrissey. An unmistakable voice certainly helps, but the lyrics and even titles scream Morrissey's ownership. "You're the One For Me, Fatty" - who could a title like that come from but him? It is undoubtedly Morrissey's greatest strength, his lyrics. And though this is another area in which he is unfortunately known to be inconsistent, he doesn't disappoint on this record (though "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" has some iffy areas, the vocal line compensates): "you're the one for me, fatty, you're the one I really, really love. And I will stay/Promise you'll say
If I'm ever in your way
." Simple? Absolutely. But great nonetheless, or perhaps because of its simplicity. I could quote any one of these songs with genius lines found within, but it's probably best if you heard them for yourself. ;)

The only complaint I would have about the album is the track order. The ballads (or at least slower songs) are all found at the end of the album, and the higher energy tracks are found on the first half. This can leave it feeling like the album drags, if only so slightly. It hurts the album's feel as a whole, but individual every track is excellent.

This is recommended for Smiths fans who are still unfamiliar with Morrissey's material. I consider it to be more accessible than Vauxhall and I, at least it was for me. Once you are familiar with a few Morrissey tracks at least, then you can delve into the other albums safely. But Your Arsenal is a sure bet for anyone who Morrissey doesn't grate.

For Morrissey fans, this is a 5/5. Get this album, you will not be disappointed. If you have a greatest hits collection, you likely already have a few tracks from this album, and have a great preview of the album. If you like his other material, this will suit as well.

For fans of the genre, 4/5. Not essential, but a great, accessible introduction to Morrissey's career. Some of his best solo lyrics, undoubtedly some of the best songs, some of which rival and even surpass Smiths songs.

For fans outside the genre 3/5. Not essential, I would love to see you pick up some Smiths work before Morrissey. But a great album nonetheless, just not a classic.

Recommended Songs

Tomorrow
One of the first Morrissey songs I heard, and it just as ear-catching today. One of the best breakdowns (?) I've ever heard, and it is simple beyond belief. A brilliant pop track.

We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful
Another fantastic pop song, whose title takes too long to type. Funny, truthful, and catchy as hell.

Glamorous Glue
The title indicates the neo-glam sound found on this album. Another track which echoes Morrissey's nationalistic themes and loss of British culture, very interesting both musically and lyrically.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
morrissey
Moderator
October 19th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha.

Nice bump.

It's influenced by glam more than sounding like it. It's still a Morrissey record, sounds like every other one.

Vauxhall and I is half brillaint half crap.

masada
October 19th 2005


2733 Comments


I was going to buy this used awhile ago, but seeing Morrissey's chest scurred me.

AtTheDriveIn198d
November 10th 2005


158 Comments


morrissey This Message Edited On 11.10.05

AtTheDriveIn198d
November 10th 2005


158 Comments


k my message doesnt work

morrissey
Moderator
November 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Alright...

morrissey
Moderator
November 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It adds character.

4/10

morrissey
Moderator
November 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

B- would not buy from again unless I do

To keep this on topic I haven't listened to this album in quite a while. I tried to work through my Morrissey collection a couple weeks ago but this is near the end of the alphabet and I've no patience. Reverse alphabetical order next time. [b]

AtTheDriveIn198d
November 11th 2005


158 Comments


how many albums did morrissey make?

morrissey
Moderator
November 11th 2005


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Proper albums - 8

Viva Hate (1988)
Kill Uncle (1991)
Your Arsenal (1992)
Vauxhall and I (1994)
Southpaw Grammar (1995)
Maladjusted (1997)
You Are the Quarry (2004)
Ringleader of the Tormentors (2006)

Throw in a few live and compilation albums:
Bona Drag (1990)
Beethoven Was Deaf (1993)
My Early Burglary Years (1998)
Live at Earl's Court (2005)

And then a few greatest hits albums and singles collections.

More if you count stuff done with the Smiths.

Or you could just check allmusic. :downs:

AtTheDriveIn198d
November 12th 2005


158 Comments


good old mozza, what a legend. i share my birthday with him so rock on.

morrissey
Moderator
April 23rd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Bump. I re-adjusted the rating, though I haven't edited it out of the review yet. It is still essential for Morrissey fans but to be honest it doesn't stretch far above a "good" album. It lingers at about a 3.2 now.

Sepstrup
June 2nd 2006


1564 Comments


Does anything Morrissey have done strech far above a good album? (I personally think You Are The Quarry does, but you gave that a 3 as well). Any album by him you'd still rate a four or higher?

morrissey
Moderator
June 2nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Actually Sylvia is 100% right with this one. Most of his albums are in the 4 territory for me personally, but I underrate them because I hold him on a different rating scale, if that makes sense. Objectively Morrissey sucks in comparison to most "good" artists out there, and I can't justify giving an album like this a 4 or 4.5. But definitely give all of his work a try... Morrissey is a really polarising figure and usually you'll love his work or hate it. I love it but I'm not dumb enough to overinflate what is objectively average work.

Sepstrup
June 2nd 2006


1564 Comments


to be partially objective or an idiot or something


:D

I have listened to a fair share of his albums (this, Vauxhall, You Are The Quarry and Ringleader of the Tormenters), and I love The Smiths so much that I will probably end up listening to all of his solo work, even if I've only really liked You Are The Quarry, since The Smiths only made four albums

But yeah, I see the point. I've pretty much given up trying to recommend him to people I know, as they don't seem to like him. Oddly enough, Morrissey is more popular as a solo artist than he is with The Smiths in general. The reviewer in our biggest magazine said his solo work was better than The Smiths, and that's not the first time a Danish reviewer has said that... I don't understand how one can have that opinon :SThis Message Edited On 06.02.06

Sepstrup
June 2nd 2006


1564 Comments


Is it good?

morrissey
Moderator
June 2nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's alright, it basically sums up his 2004 tour. Most of the hits from Quarry, a few b-sides, and some old Smiths and Viva Hate-era hits.
I can't imagine anyone liking his solo career over the Smiths, then again some people can't imagine anyone liking the Smiths so it all works out.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2006


15743 Comments


Morissey doing a Morrissey review? lolzerz!

I want to get into the Smiths, from what I've been hearing, it's good stuff.

Sepstrup
June 2nd 2006


1564 Comments


I can't imagine anyone liking his solo career over the Smiths


Me neither. Danes are stupid. I fugre I should get Live at Earl's Court since I'm seeing him live at Roskilde Festival this summer, and the setlist might be somewhat similar to that plus some Ringleader of the Tormentors (It's a bummer that I didn't see him after he released Quarry, because I think that album is much better, still looking forward, though I'm not sure if any of my friends want to see him :P)

morrissey
Moderator
June 2nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That may have been the Who Put the M in Manchester? concert which I prefer to Earl's Court. But either way.

Sepstrup
June 2nd 2006


1564 Comments


If I had bought the new album in a record shop, I would've gotten tickets to see Who Put the M in Manchester (As long as I was one of the 25 first or something, but whatever)



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