February 23, 2009 12:00 PM

Years of Refusal |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

ALT-ROCK

Who would have ever thought Morrissey would have flourished as a middle-aged rock star? Nevertheless, the former Smiths frontman, who turns 50 in May, has been on a creative roll with 2004’s You Are the Quarry, 2006’s Ringleader of the Tormentors and now Years of Refusal. One of his best albums since his early solo days, Refusal recalls 1992’s Your Arsenal with its rock thump on tracks like the guitar-charged opener, “Something Is Squeezing My Skull.” Of course, Morrissey’s wit packs a bite of its own, as shown on the brutal ballad “It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore” and the first single, “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” a perfect piece of Moz pop.

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