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Morrissey

Ringleader of the Tormentors (Sanctuary)

It's often difficult to critically analyze a much-beloved artist, because the tendency is to excuse irksome traits or loathsome sonic detours simply because of past greatness. So while it's tempting to give Morrissey a free pass for hauling in a choir of children -- who appear on several tracks on his eighth studio effort and add to the creepy patricide vibe on the otherwise brilliant pop stomp "The Father Who Must Be Killed" -- ultimately the rugrats' soprano nattering leaves a sour taste. Still, Morrissey has included enough sterling moments on Tormentors to redeem this misstep. Ballads are downplayed (and when present, possess vaguely electronica undertones à la Massive Attack) in favor of brisk guitar songs swelling with strings and choruses that ascend like a hot-air balloon. Although 2004's You Are the Quarry often concentrated on Moz's struggle for ethnic identity, Tormentors largely sticks to personal topics. Even the expected filler on the disc isn't embarrassingly maudlin or cheesy, making Tormentors another triumph in Morrissey's career resurgence.

 
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