**Note: This is an archived review, originally published on Big Yawn music reviews back in 2006*
Many may have originally thought that the morose Mancunian had jacked it all in when he upped sticks from his hometown in the north west of England and moved to the U.S, yet apparently he was just taking a break, an opportunity to flirt with his muse and return with the glorious You Are The Quarry in 2004.
Now however, it seems that the Smiths’ former frontman is at least contemplating full-time retirement, if not exactly having his heart set on the idea.
True, it’s possible that Ringleader of The Tormentors, Morrissey’s eighth solo studio album is yet just another display of his usual dark tales of black humour and woe. A more mature, less urgent yet equally as macabre effort as any of his previous releases, that slaps his thick, smooth voice over bass-heavy tunes.
However, it seems like there’s just something more to it this time around, as though Morrissey is somewhat subtly trying to tell us something. Whether it’s accounts of death on the excellent You Have Killed Me or The Father Must Be Killed, searching for closure on album highlight I Just Want To See The Boy Happy or arranging rendezvous in I Will See You in Far Off Places, almost everything here points to a Moz departure, as though plotting his own exit through song.
That said, he’s not quite ready to take his final curtain call just yet, and thank god; as swan-songs go, Ringleader of the Tormentors would make for a rather unremarkable one. Not that this is essentially a bad album, the aforementioned You Have Killed Me and I Just Want To See the Boy Happy stand out as brilliant, melodic tunes that just about snatch this LP from the evil clutches of mediocrity.
Indeed, for whilst those numbers are rich with memorable hooks, strong, smooth guitars and brooding basslines, they’re about the only things on this 12-track sleeping pill worth repeated listens. Everything else, as sad as it may sound, is quite simply tedious
Harmonies and melodies seem to have been pilfered either from Morrissey’s own back catalogue or a handful of generic pop songs, whilst a void of distinguishable riffs and memorable tunes is filled with pile after pile of plodding bass.
It seems that, as Morrissey has aged and matured, so too has his music, and whilst that is no bad thing in itself, should King Moz finally decide to call it a day, he’ll surely what to release a more fitting end to an extraordinary career than this incredibly ordinary, middle-of-the-road throw-away.