November 17, 2017
Morrissey is the type of artist that gets on our nerves from time to time. Whether he's having a run in with Italian police, canceling tours, voicing his support for the anti-muslim Ukip candidate - Anne Marie Waters - or leaving eager fans waiting in the cold, we can't exactly live without his music. Other times, we're able to brush off the annoyances and realize that Morrissey's antics aren't worth taking seriously. Luckily, his 11th studio album - Low In High School - hits home with longtime fans. The news came as a bombshell for those of us who weren't paying close enough attention, but Morrissey brings us back to his riveting post-Smiths soundscape. This time, he injects a depth of genre-mixing into an already uniformly melancholic template. The album kicks off with a slugger of an opening track, "My Love, I'd Do Anything For You." hard-hitting riffage and monumental brass sections propel the song into a glammy, stadium-esq anthem.
Low In High School is far more political in context than the bulk of Morrissey's discography. Many of his lyrics encompass current events, and often do so in the most cocksure way possible. I'm in no way a fan of war - nor do I believe that the reasons for war are legit - but "I Bury the Dead" comes off as a tee bit brash. It even encroaching on sensitive territory with the lyrics, "Funny how the war goes on / without our John." "I Wish You Lonely," yet another "I told you so" sort of snub at soldiers fighting and dying for the interests of the monarchy and oligarchy.
What started as a tweet, "Spent the Day in Bed," hinted at the album's lead single. The song delves into a "truther" theme - urging listeners not to watch the news, "because the news contrives to frighten you." Besides the familiar ground of Morrissey's even-keel vocal swirl and feathery undertones, it's nothing that you would typically expect. He pulls from a rather funk-driven sphere with clicky clavinet arpeggios and cheap piano chords - adding an abstract layer to the mix.
Unfortunately, the album starts to lose it's umph after the first half. However, "When You Open Your Legs" raises the bar - brooding melodies and strong hooks. But overall, Low In High School isn't exactly a nail in the coffin for the 58 year old musician. He's not quite washed up yet. Despite his last couple albums lacking in potency, and his current lyrical context going completely awry, Morrissey's presence still seems to agitate and entice at the same time. Love him or hate him, his relevancy still lurks in the music world. But Morrissey needs to stop listening to Alex Jones and get back writing genuine songs.
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