Today in Music History: Morrissey releases Vauxhall and I

“The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get,” could be Morrissey’s manifesto. The ex-Smith has been chipping away at us for years, digging his heels in every time we get bored and move on to music a little less self-aggrandizing.

The lead single from 1994’s Vauxhall and I, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” marked Morrissey’s first appearance on the American charts. “I am now a central part of your mind’s landscape/whether you care or do not,” he sings. At that point in his career, four solo albums removed from The Smiths, we were all ears.

The album saw a re-release on its 20th anniversary via Parlophone and remains vital listening within Morrissey’s discography. What Vauxhall and I lacks in the playful rockabilly of Your Arsenal or the guilty pleasure of Smiths copycat Viva Hate, it makes up for with the sound of its own weariness. That doesn’t initially seem like a plus, but Morrissey goes his own way here, separating himself from his past and his old band. There are a couple of very rewarding kiss-offs on the album (“Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself”), imbued with the sort of honesty that only comes from warts-and-all self-acceptance.

Outside of his vicious wit, some of Morrissey’s best moments emerge from his earnestness. Though the album suffers from an overabundance of ballads, there are plenty of fed up, exhausted moments on Vauxhall and I, both elegantly executed and disarmingly truthful.

Released 23 years ago today, Vauxhall and I remains essential Morrissey, the moment the man decided to revel in his own mythos instead of reworking or apologizing for it.

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