Morrissey just released his latest album, Low in Highschool. Many mechanisms we expect from the artist are present here - including his unmistakable voice, of course. However, there are moments in which he seems to awkwardly reach for instrumentation that feels cumbersome to his style. Additionally, it is difficult to ignore the rant-like manner in which many of the tracks unfold.
Morrissey comes out swinging
Track one on Low in Highschool, entitled “My Love, I’d Do Anything For You,” starts out with a tortured horn sound, before dropping into wailing guitars and a palpable 80s-feeling percussion. The track is punctuated by horns, backed by sweeping orchestration. While Morrissey’s voice acts as a pleasant counterpoint during the chorus, some verses see his tone feeling slightly out of place. Lyrically, “My Love, I’d Do Anything For You” comes out swinging with political statements. This turns out to be a - not entirely unexpected - theme throughout the record.
“I Wish You Lonely” carries forward the instrumentation established in track one. The content turns out to be just as spiteful as the name suggests, while continuing to take jabs at the establishment. Morrissey’s vocal performance feels more at home in this second piece.
Semblance of a former self
Taking a bit of a turn, “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage” presents a return to some of the artist’s older work. A smoother piece with a clear story, it takes the intensity level down a notch. Running with this thread, “Home is a Questions Mark” has a slower tempo and weighty feel to it. Toward the end, however, this track turns into a slightly awkward ballad. Here, the line “wrap your legs around my face just to greet me” introduces another running theme on the album.
As the record moves onward, each track slots into one of two categories. Some fall someplace in a range between vaguely and pointedly - almost violently - political. Chief among the latter are “I Bury The Living” and “Who Will Protect Us from the Police?” Others, such as “When You Open Your Legs,” showcase the artist’s apparent fixation on what’s between your thighs.
Fans of Morrissey will hear aspects of the artist’s brilliance at work here, certainly. An equal number of listeners are likely to find those sparks overshadowed by seemingly uncoordinated bitterness. In retrospect, Low in Highschool is not likely to be counted among the icon’s triumphs.
Morrissey released the highly political album ‘Low in Highschool’ [review]5