Despite not having released a studio album since 2009’s Years Of Refusal, in the spotlight once again is Morrissey, following the breakthrough of his long awaited autobiography. Having released thirteen studio albums in a career that has seen collaborations with the likes of David Bowie and Siouxsie Sioux, Morrissey returns with a series of classic album reissues, paving the way perhaps for that elusive new solo album.
Things haven’t however always looked so rosy for Moz. During the height of his success as an independent solo artist, Morrissey’s status as the undisputed prince of alternative pop took a serious knock following the release of 1991’s disappointing Kill Uncle.Despite his emergence as an alternative icon over in the states (and a multiplying frenzy of fans) Morrissey was in dire need of a solid studio output to put him back on the map on his home turf. Thankfully, Your Arsenal provided just that, and here it arrives again in 2014, freshly remastered, and remaining a high point in Morrissey’s long and lucrative career.
Where the remastering is concerned, casual fans will be hard pressed to notice any real difference between this version and the original release. Similarly to efforts of other artists, the remastering process has been carried out largely to reintroduce Morrissey’s back catalogue to listeners. On the whole, Your Arsenal departs from the theatrical and tongue in cheek styles of Kill Uncle, presenting much more tender moments such as Seasick, Yet Still Docked and the sublime I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday, more akin to Morrissey’s efforts with The Smiths. It isn’t however completely free of Morrissey’ distinctive style of satire and comedy. Where it is implemented, its in the punchier pop numbers such as You’re The One For Me, Fatty, which rate amongst the albums strongest moments.
The influence of new guitarist Boz Boorer’s rockabilly guitar style is evident throughout, particularly on tracks such as The National Front Disco and opener You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side. Boorer has remained a constant presence ever since, contributing to follow up album Vauxhall and I, highly regarded by fans and critics alike as Morrissey’s finest work.
Comparing the two albums, it’s a shame that Your Arsenal is largely void of those sweeping moments of grandeur that Vauxhall and I had in buckets, and as a result it pales in significance. That being said, there are enough true gems on Your Arsenal to make this more than just another Morrissey album.