An excellent equal to what was already Moz's masterpiece
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 06/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After some false starts and ill-advised intents to shock with his music, Morrissey at last found a good reason to have left his seminal rock band The Smiths with 1992's YOUR ARSENAL. In fact, the album was successful enough to win Moz an audience in America, who had only existed as a cult following to the Smiths. While YOUR ARSENAL was hailed as a masterpiece almost the minute it came out, the big question was what to do for an encore. The answer was simple: come up with an album that's just as good as ARSENAL but certainly not the equal of that musical miracle. Hence, 1994's VAUXHALL & I. Ever since his days with the Smiths, Morrissey has never been afraid to acknowledge his inspiration in 1970s glam rock, and YOUR ARSENAL was like his version of ZIGGY STARDUST. But he probably realized he wasn't a kid anymore, for VAUXHALL & I is from a man who's now in his mid-30s, and is possibly bidding farewell to the confrontational image that was in his Smiths days. Starting out immediately with the mellow "Now My Heart Is Full", this song shows that Moz is beginning to grow up, but not by selling out. The sounds on VAUXHALL are mainstream, but the lyrics are anything but. "Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning", "The Lazy Sunbathers" and the closing eyebrow-raiser "Speedway" (are the rumors about Moz being a racist true?!!) would certainly not have found its way on top 40 radio in America, but in England it might have, for their idea of pop music is something a bit more advanced than ours. Speaking of which, one song off VAUXHALL almost did capture the American public. "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" just barely missed the top 40 here, and was deservedly Morrissey's biggest hit in America with or without the Smiths. The lyrics are still distinctively Morrissey, but something about this song makes it easier for the uninitiated to accept. Other modern-day Moz classics include "I Am Hated For Loving", "Used To Be A Sweet Boy", "Billy Budd" (another baiter for those who question Moz's sexual preference) and "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself". At this point in Morrissey's career, he was quite prolific with the wonderful YOUR ARSENAL following the lame KILL UNCLE (1991) by only about 15 months. VAUXHALL & I would be followed by the progressive-rock-influenced SOUTHPAW GRAMMAR (1995) by about the same time length. But after 1997's MALADJUSTED, Morrissey fell silent after his record company dropped him, and since then he has been without a home in the business. Last I heard, he was still shopping around for a label, so while it may be now 4 years since the last Morrissey record, we'll still have wonders like ARSENAL and VAUXHALL to keep us company until Moz's newest pop masterpiece is unveiled."
Mature, yes; trendy, no
29-year old wallflower | 08/24/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Certain people I know have slagged this album for not being as "energetic" as SOUTHPAW GRAMMAR and MALADJUSTED, and for me it's all the better for it. If one subscribes to the biography theory of art, then the losses Morrissey was experiencing in his life (two close friends of his died around this time) during this album's creation drove him to brilliance. Highlights range from the "riff-oriffic" lead single "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get" to the charging, moody "Spring-Heeled Jim" to the wistfully beautiful "Why Don't You Find Out for Yourself" (who else can get away with a line like "I've been stabbed in the back/so many times before/I don't have any skin/but that's just the way it goes"?) and the chillingly angry album closer, "Speedway." I hold this album to be the pinnacle of Morrissey's solo career, and hope he may again return to this level of heart-felt brilliance...everything he has released on album since (note I said albums; his last ten b-sides have been better than most of these album tracks, from "Nobody Loves Us" to "Now I Am a Was") has felt tossed off, and that's more than a shame -- the early Morrissey would not much care for the 1998 version."
VAUXHALL AND I : purple reign
J. Holmes | yokohama, japan | 04/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vauxhall And I is a perfect example how beautiful and elegant modern rock music can be and shows just what kind of masterpiece Morrissey and his boys are capable of putting out when they put their minds to it.
the spine-tingling moments begin right from the start with the hauntingly gorgeous strains of "Now My Heart Is Full." it's one of those times where Morrissey's voice just sounds absolutely perfect. dripping with elegance nestled with a late-night intimacy that overtakes the mind and quickly absorbs the listener into this world of "raincoated lover's puny brothers." it's a time when it genuinely feels really really good to be a fan. this song alone warrants purchase of this album, but luckily every song on here is a keeper. "Hold On To Your Friends" finds the band shuffling with some charming melodies and great playing...especially the drummer; who laces this number with tasty and respectful fills. "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" stands out on this cd as one of the all-time definitive Morrissey songs...for the musical aspects as well as the spot-on lyrics. one of the nice surprises on this record is the closing track "Speedway", which begins nice enough with some melancholy strumming of guitar...then suddenly, a chainsaw rips forth from the background! it sounds crazy, but it works so wonderfully to gently propel the song into it's primal drumming and serves as an appropriate and astonishing album finisher.
the production on Vauxhall And I could not have been any better. every instrument is precise and sounds lovely and everything seems to be smeared in a blurry lavender opaque sound with Moz's vocals gently riding the crest. a fine album and certainly one of the finer times for Morrissey and crew."
He's still got it!
Laszlo Matyas | 08/31/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who thinks that Morrissey only made music worth listening to while he was with the Smiths should spend some time getting acquainted with Vauxhall and I. Released in 1994, this album shows the Mozzer channeling the spirit of his glory days; in its finest moments, Vauxhall and I matches the sheer emotional power of albums like the Queen Is Dead and songs like "This Charming Man." The whole thing positively gushes with the things that made Morrissey so great in the first place- the lyrics are pure twisted poetry, full of razor-sharp wit and lovelorn angst, while the music is nothing short of gloriously offbeat pop.
Just listen to those songs! "Now My Heart Is Full," the album's opening salvo, is a stunningly gorgeous ode to solitude and shyness, a symphonic blast of sheer emotion that sees Morrissey's voice arcing its way over a dreamy swirl of guitars. The chorus is downright breathtaking. There's also the dark, cynical "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself," in which yours truly recounts a lifetime of being betrayed, used, and lied to. The performance (as well as the gloomy yet oddly upbeat melody) rings with tension and bitterness. Closing out the proceedings is "Speedway," which is another blinding burst of unbridled pathos. These three masterpieces form the foundation of the album, but they're by no means the only good songs here: "Hold On To Your Friends" is a dark, subtly barbed paean to self-sacrifice, while "Spring-Heeled Jim" is a wonderfully moody rocker that features hazy swirls of guitar feedback twisting around Morrissey's unsettlingly dreamy vocals. "The Lazy Sunbathers" is sunshine pop for a solar eclipse, with its lilting rhythms and apocalyptic lyrics.
To be fair, this isn't a perfect album; there are a few week tracks here. "I Am Hated For Loving" is a dull ballad with uninteresting lyrics and a melody that isn't nearly as beautiful as Morrissey wanted it to be. I could also do without "Lifeguard Sleeping, Girl Drowning," which does nothing musically or lyrically. Plus, Morrissey's whispered vocals are really annoying. "Used to Be a Sweet Boy" does have a slightly beautiful melody, but its potential is squandered by Morrissey's pained vocals and melodramatic lyrics.
But, a few duds aside, this really is a fantastic album that belongs in the possession of any fan of the Smiths or Morrissey."