AOTY 2020

California Son

Morrissey - California Son
Critic Score
Based on 15 reviews
2019 Ratings: #741 / 758
User Score
Based on 116 ratings
2019 Ratings: #863
Liked by 1 person
Sign In to rate and review


The Telegraph
If a great cover version should reveal new dimensions in both song and singer, then this album is filled with them.
A.V. Club

Without the baggage of his political views—which is where the letter grade on this review comes from—California Son would be a worthy addition to a mostly stellar catalog, offering insight into a great singer and lyricist’s taste and breathing new life into mostly forgotten songs.

By planting his flag so firmly in the past, Morrissey proudly separates himself from the present, even when he's embracing brightly digital production. In other words, he's sounding a bit like a curmudgeon, but he embraces his eccentricities, which means this contrarianism wears well on record, even if it doesn't in real life.
Rolling Stone
Even without Morrissey explaining his motivations, the album is stil a look into his psyche. The track list suggests that he still thinks the world is headed for end times, that he still knows he’s unlovable, that he longs for excitement.

California Son may not entirely succeed in repositioning Morrissey as a righteous protest singer, boldly crooning truth to power, but ...  it confirms him as as a peerless modern practitioner of deep song, the pop artist who can divine.

Spectrum Culture

There is nothing on California Sun that will help rewrite the history of Morrissey the artist, nor will it likely prevent him from any future indiscretions and questionable public pronouncements. But it’s nonetheless an enjoyable romp through ‘60s and ‘70s AM pop that never feels forced or needlessly over-the-top.

As hard as Morrissey tries, it’s difficult to enjoy a celebratory gambol with him down memory lane when it’s full of potholes.
‘California Son’ is the sound of someone in retreat, withdrawing from the world around them, pulling up the draw-bridge, sometimes attempting to engage with the now but only half-heartedly so.
Under The Radar

California Son is uneven at its best, and borderline sacrilegious at its lowest points.

The Independent
I could have forgiven this album its missteps if I could dissociate the music from the man. It’s really not bad. But I can’t.
The Guardian

Quite why Morrissey has decided to record an album of protest-adjacent covers at this point in his career is unclear.


California Son represents a deep-rooted cynicism at the heart of a man who utters one thing publicly, yet cannot abide by it in his performance. However, its main problem is that it's just terminally boring.

cant tell if it actually sucks or if people just hate morrissey. as a fan of the smiths and some morrissey solo albums would i like this
fuck this pretentious crypto-fascist gammon C U N T.
"Days of Decision" is a great song, but Phil Ochs, Roy Orbison & Bob Dylan covers and lounge-singing is such an enormous step down from his last couple records. I will say, to its credit, however, the move from anachronistic indie-rock to a more oldies-tinged dreamy pop sound isn't necessarily a step in the wrong direction. Quite the contrary, he avoids the pitfalls of his last LP, which hit its low by diverging into out-of-place tacky social commentary of the time, putting Moz in ... read more
Insufferably boring and soporific. Go away, Morrissey.
Purchasing California Son from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Track List

  1. Morning Starship
  2. Don't Interrupt the Sorrow
  3. Only a Pawn in Their Game
  4. Suffer the Little Children
  5. Days of Decision
  6. It's Over
  7. Wedding Bell Blues
  8. Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets
  9. Lady Willpower
  10. When You Close Your Eyes
  11. Lenny's Tune
  12. Some Say I Got Devil
Sign in to comment

Added on: March 21, 2019