Morrissey Gets Physical, Sexy: Revisiting ‘Your Arsenal’
Decades after the breakup of Brit rockers the Smiths, most fans of the immensely influential band have concluded they will probably never get back together. Singer Morrissey has put together quite an impressive solo career in their wake, and many consider his third full-length release, Your Arsenal, which he released on July 27, 1992, to be a high point.
Your Arsenal was also commercially one of his most successful, both in his native England and here in the States, debuting just one spot removed from the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 tally and spawning two hit singles. "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful," which could have easily passed itself off as a Meat Is Murder-era Smiths tune, was the disc's first single and peaked at No. 2 on the Alternative Songs chart (then the Modern Rock Tracks chart), while fourth single "Tomorrow" was one of just two Moz solo tracks to top that tally.
Lyrically, on Arsenal, the notoriously self-conscious crown price of mope-rock suddenly seemed more at ease with himself and less focused on meeting the highbrow literary expectations he had set for himself – an opinion that the singer himself agreed with. "I don't know [why], I'll go and ask him," he joked to British music mag Q back in '92. "But yes. I didn't want to use a lyric sheet. I wanted to make as physical a record as I possibly could instead of constantly being curled up in a little ball at the foot of the bed."
Even the album's cover, which featured the Moz striking an unambiguously sexy pose, turned heads. When an interviewer for Q called the cover "homoerotic," Morrissey replied, "You're the first person who's said that, and it's nice that somebody has."
As for the future of the Smiths -- even back then, just five years removed from the split -- Moz was showing signs that a reunion wasn't going to happen -- he just didn't hold his former group in high regard. "A lot of it I don't actually like ... I don't like what I see within me. I don't like what I see in the other three also," he told Q of the Smith's music. "That's not supposed to sound rude. But I do think that just over half the output, to me, is really ... beautiful."
To a notorious perfectionist like Morrissey, a project with a 50 percent success rate was not something worth revisiting. And while Smiths fans worldwide just share the same opinion, at least they have albums like Your Arsenal to fill the vast void.
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