Morrissey, Years of Refusal
Official Release Date: February 16
The Verdict: Some aging artists these days react to the cratering physical-music market with albums overtly engineered to sound like the ones they made at their commercial peak (*cough* practically everyone except for Morrissey *cough*) — and then there's Morrissey, who, despite being almost 50, is somehow impressively able to crank out excellent, non-embarrassing records at two-year intervals. The songs on Years of Refusal (which leaked yesterday) aren't exactly his best ones ever, but his band plays them as if they were (all tracks were allegedly cut live in single takes), giving the album a loud energy that wasn't quite there on his two previous ones. On a first listen, we really like "Something Is Squeezing My Skull," "Black Cloud," and the ballad presumably dedicated to his less-inspired peers: "You Were Good in Your Time."