Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Morrissey, "Vauxhall And I" (1994, Parlophone)

The press ignores it? We think it's a masterpiece

Like him or not, Morrissey is one of the most dissected living artists in Britain. Too often, however, critics bypass Morrissey's peak as a solo artist, 1994's Vauxhall And I. They would go on about his successful solo debut Viva Hate or the slump of Kill Uncle, the immigration controversy years and the triumphant come back of 2004. But, amazingly, Vauxhall And I is treated like a mere footnote in his career.

Instead it should be considered his most triumphant of comebacks. In 1992-93, Britain had decided that Morrissey had lost it. Emerging from a barrage of criticism after the infamous Finsbury Park incident of 1992, a few dubious interviews and a string of personal losses that included legendary producer Mark Ronson, Morrissey proved all his critics wrong.

Vauxhall and I is his superb response. The album (the title itself a tribute to seminal 80s film "Withnail and I"), is defined by a sombre mood in its entirety, an exercise in perfect arrangements, acoustic atmospheres and the notion that 'less is more'.

Morrissey's most devoted fans would tell you about the remorseful Used to Be A Sweet Boy ; the subdued self-therapy of Now My Heart Is Full ("there's gonna be some trouble/ a whole house will need rebuilding/ and everyone I love in the house/ is reclined on an analyst's couch quite soon") containing one of the last literary references of his career (Brighton Rock's Dallow, Spicer, Pinkie and Cubit); the gently sinister atmosphere of Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning; and the tender resignation of Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself.

If Morrissey's current state of form leaves a lot to be desired, there's no need to hark back to his Smiths days. Vauxhall And I is possibly the most mature work of his career. And without the slightest inclination to sell out.

1 comment:

Helen Highwater said...

"Now My Heart is Full" is an amazingly beautiful song. I love it!