Morrissey

Low in High School

BMG

Nov 17, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

Morrissey sure hasn't made things easy on us. As he stumbles, gracelessly, deeper into the 21st Century, the Pope of Mope has given his fans more than enough reason to wince each time they click on a news item about the one-time indie king: chances are he's made an incendiary, ill-thought-out political statement, or has canceled tour dates. Morrissey's courted controversy since the beginning, but as time has gone on it's seemed like he's less concerned about provoking thoughts and more about provoking anger in the most embarrassing ways possible. (To many followers, he's become the equivalent of that uncle you'll always have a place for in your heart, but choose to keep his posts hidden from your Facebook feed.) Low in High School, his 11th solo record, was produced under the guiding hand of veteran producer Joe Chiccarelli, and features a collection of acoustically-diverse tracks co-penned by Moz's bandmates. The resulting record is, musically, one of his strongest in years, but lyrically, his most blunt, pedestrian, and disengaged from reality.

The record opens with "My Love, I'd Do Anything for You," a Wagnerian blast of theatrical pomp, complete with a hard rock guitar riff, pounding drums, and a horn accompaniment that's the opposite of subtle, the sort of song that Jim Steinman might have composed for one of Meat Loaf's later Bat Out of Hell sequels. That description may sound atrocious, but it's a great look for Moz, adding extra drama to the record's most on-point set of lyrics. ("Teach your kids to recognize and despise all the propaganda," he sings, putting additional oomph into each syllable.) It's followed by "I Wish You Lonely," also of sonic interest, underscored by electronic, industrial blurps that grew hokey by the mid-'90s but may be ready to come back in style. Morrissey has a habit of returning to the same targets over and over throughout Low in High School, from the armed forces ("A wretched outcast with no point of view, what could I do? Just military service.... Give me an order, I'll blow up a border!/Give me an order, I'll blow up your daughter," he sings in "I Bury the Living.") to the media again ("Stop watching the news!" he begs, over and over, in "Spent the Day in Bed.") The Middle East is another popular topic, coming up in "Israel," "The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel," and, oddly enough, "In Your Lap," wherein he lyrically waxes on the Arab Spring while longing to go down on some unspecified muse. Even when it sounds like he might have something to say, all subtlety is tossed out the window. "Spend more on nuclear war if that's your chosen illusion/Incinerate innocent men and women and children," he croons over a clamorous percussion and tinkling ivories in "All the Young People Must Fall in Love."

Listeners' enjoyment of Low in High School may very well hinge on how well they can separate the songs from the simplistic messages therein. Musically it may be Morrissey's best album in years, but it comes on the back of a string of weaker efforts and is nowhere in the same league as classics like Your Arsenal or Viva Hate, or even second-runners like Ringleader of the Tormentors. It's Morrissey's weakened, diminished lyricism that kicks it down from being a solid-if-not-stunning Moz record to something almost unpalatable. What the hell happened? Has Morrissey truly lost his wit, or is he too old and angry to even try anymore? Gone is the romanticism; also missing are his clever wordsmanship and bitter sense of humor. In their wake we have a collection of bumper sticker slogansnone as effective as the old classic "Meat is Murder," but the sort you might shake your head at when you pass them in a Whole Foods parking lot. (www.morrisseyofficial.com)

Author rating: 3/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 5/10



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Tim
November 17th 2017
4:43pm

Listen closely to the lyrics, a lesson from moz for the listener, stand teacks jackys only happy when up on stage, spent the day in bed and my love ill do anything,, sadly a few tracks sound all too similat,

Kurt D.
November 18th 2017
3:22am

Maybe Morrissey’s lyrics would be better if he didn’t write so many of them. This album has the problem many vocalists have when the forget about the band, and don’t give them any space to breathe. The vocalist, too often, seems to think the fans will be content to simply hear their voice… on and on… with almost no breaks for the music to take over, and soar. I loved the soundscapes of early Morrissey albums, but on this, the Moz just never shuts up! (I love you Moz, but really…stretch out & wait?) I think he would do well to choose his words well, and place them at just the right spot, and no more.