Ringleader Of The Tormentors
By: Eric Greenwood
Morrissey has made his name by acting like a high maintenance drama queen for two decades now. He's cultivated his hyperbolic, schoolgirl viciousness to such a shrill degree that it's hard to be shocked any more. With 2004's You Are the Quarry, Morrissey ended a seven-year hiatus from recording, and his return was as theatrical as could be expected. Showered with return-to-form praise, Morrissey received his highest marks in years. Whether it was a case of nostalgic projection or earned acclaim is up for debate. It's doubtless, though, that You Are the Quarry shamed his output in the latter half of the '90's.
While Ringleader of the Tormentors might be his finest album title, it's far from his finest album. Where even tragic missteps like Southpaw Grammar had character, Tormentors merely imitates vintage peaks. Any die-hard fan will admit Morrissey solo has never been as sharp or spry as any Smiths record, but he's put the golden touch on more than a handful of singles over the years, proving that Johnny Marr certainly didn't do it alone. But where Tormentors fails is in its rote sameness. It's beyond predictable. Morrissey complains using far too many syllables, and the music awkwardly traipses behind. There's not a single tawdry epithet or clever lyric worth repeating here, and that in itself is a crime even Morrissey wouldn't forgive.