Morrissey returns with his 11th studio album that follows 2014’s “World Peace Is None of Your Business.” An album that has received some good reception (maybe too much from the NME), but personally, it was starting to get tiresome for me to listen to hear a new Morrissey album.
I love The Smiths and love some of Morrissey’s solo work (“Viva Hate,” “Vauxhall & I” and “Your Arsenal”). So it’s hard to imagine what Indie Rock could have been had The Smiths never existed. But after “Vauxhall & I,” I was less interested. There’s some songs I like here and there, I’m but not completely mesmerized.
Coming into this album, I was expecting Morrissey to go out and do his what he does always. The only thing is, I’m not expecting to be completely shocked like I was when he wrote songs like “Margret On the Guillotine” or “The National Front Disco.” So at this point, I’m not all that shocked by what the does now.
Opening track “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You” confirms this direction for me. The crunching guitars, Morrissey’s distinctive yet aging croons, and lyrics of how you must have your kids turn away from the propaganda of the media because it is all a bunch of nonsense.
“Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage” is Morrissey’s commentary on Brexit using a metaphor of “Jacky” (the Union Jack) as a performer and she is nothing without any sort guidance from the script or crew (in this case, the European Union).
“I Spent the Day in Bed,” the single from this album, has this really cool wonky keyboard parts that has the potential to be stuck in my head, but somehow doesn’t reach that level. This track also reminds how annoying it can be at times with Morrissey trying to turn you away from the media. It’s already enough that we heard him say that on “My Love” and it makes me want to say “Okay! I get it! I get it!”
But once you get to the second half of the record, the sound of the record moves away from the rock sound presented from the first half. You have to give producer Joe Chiccarelli some credit to have bring this new change for the album.
“The Girl from Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel” for example has elements of Latin music that is actually nice to hear. I love how the piano sounds like one that hasn’t been used for decades. The track is notable for the commentary of the reason for US intervention in the Middle East is because they want the oil those countries have.
“All the Young People Must Fall in Love” has this stomp-clap rhythm that is really catchy. Again this really emphasize my point of the second half of this album. I’ve have and some lyrics that see Morrissey take a dig at the current US President which is now pretty standard to see him take a dig at politician; and I think this backs up my problem with the lyrics throughout this album, you start to roll your eyes more and more every time. Not that I think it’s wrong to take a dig at a politician, it’s just that I have heard it all before.
The last two tracks creep me out, “Who Will Protect Us from the Police?” contains eerie synthesizers with a tragic story about a child asking their father about who will protect them from the violence and the ending having the father telling the child to run away in what could be assumed as the police now killing the father.
“Israel” has some startling lyrics, “You realize, if you’re happy. Jesus sends you to Hell” is the opening the line from the record. This gives an almost pessimistic and oppressive scenario, saying that we’re “born as guilty sinners,” “Earth is just one big asylum,” and that those who abuse you is due to their jealously and you should only love yourself to weather through. This brings the album to a dramatic close with a repetitive piano melody, and military-like drum beats.
“Low in High School” is a decent album by Morrissey but I wouldn’t start with this record if you’re new to him. I find myself not particularly wowed by everything, but some of the tracks remind me that at least Morrissey still has some good songs left.
Die-hard Morrissey fans will most certainly love this record and play time and time again. However, if you’re new to Morrissey, I would recommend looking into his work with The Smiths and his critically-acclaimed solo albums.
Track Picks: “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You,” “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage,” “The Girl from Tele Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel” and “All the Young People Must Fall in Love”