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Morrissey - Low in High School (Track by Track)

posted 8 Jan 2018, 04:13 by Scene Alba Magazine   [ updated 8 Jan 2018, 04:56 ]

Divisive, loved and loathed in equal measures yet unignorable Morrissey is back with his eleventh studio and in these days of attention-whore rent-a-gobs and phoney president’s rapid fire twitter can Salford's favourite lad still be heard over the relentless noise of the 21st century?


My Love, I’d Do Anything For You.

The opening track is a huge, brassy, stomper of a song. Full of swagger and brio it has a no holds barred approach, both muscular and energetic, it should’ve been the title song for the last Bond movie. And Morrissey is sounding commanding, he’s completely convincing when he snarls “Society’s hell, you need me just like I need yah!” It’s easily one of Morrissey’s best openers ever.


I Wish You Lonely.

A fuzzy glammed up lament on forever being lonely, a long standing touchstone for Morrissey it has icy blasts of Numanesque synths throughout the song, one can only wonder what the Moz of 1985 would make of it all. And to be clear Morrissey only wants you to be lonely for a bit just you can see what life is like for him and also for humpbacked whales.


Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage.

Isn’t Morrissey’s sister called Jacqueline? I doubt that she’s the eponymous performer miserable due to a lost love, well I hope not as it’s not a particularly rosy picture painted here. Anyway, once more fuzzed up basslines and thundering drums clash with chiming guitars and a lone trumpet toots notes of panic until it reaches a thundering, clambering climax with everybody running for the exits. It really couldn’t be anyone else.


Home Is A Question Mark.

A mid-paced ballad, where our weary hero croons about a longing for home over twinkling sleighbells, huge orchestral swells and some deeply satisfying twanging guitar, it’s a terrifically sad song, the kind that has you joyfully weeping your eyes out on a misspent night in the company of too many glasses of red wine.


Spent The Day in Bed.

The jaunty earworm of a single led merrily along by a cheery electronic keyboard lyrically light until Morrissey implores you to “Stop watching the news” um, no don’t follow that advice that’s just as silly as telling you not to vote.


I Bury the Living.

Hmm, a bit of a clunker to be honest. Morrissey is not liking soldiers on this album at all, they get a kicking on a few of the songs on ‘Low in High School’. ‘I Bury the Living’ starts as a thumpy rocker, a bit by the numbers until about 5:15 when things turn very surreal. It then transforms into a gentle swaying coda with a playful African inspired guitar chiming away very much in the mould of early Smiths or Vini Reilly before it exits laughing.


In Your Lap.

A piano torch song attacking war and those who wage it (again), driving the narrator to put his face in someone’s lap. It’s simple but one can’t help but think if it had a more romantic sheen it would be a much better song. And yes Morrissey can do romantic. Honestly.


The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel.

A calypso tinged song about a resolute lady who is steadfast, well it is for a bit then it’s all bluntly political, except for when he informs us “All of my friends are in trouble, but there’s no need to go into that now” What a tease, it’s actually quite lovely and Morrissey’s voice is actually well suited to this style.


All The Young People Must Fall In Love.

Possibly the most lighthearted of lyrics on ‘Low in High School’ over a shuffling beat and handclaps Morrissey sounds his most carefree as he exclaims that “Presidents come and Presidents go” it has a pleasant cheer to it which is the opposite of what people expect from Morrissey.


When You Open Your Legs.

Unfortunately this track veers perilously close to parody, indeed it sounds like it comes straight out of Morrissey!: The Musical. Not for the first time it sounds like a half finished song, indeed it peters off unceremoniously at the end, a whispering slight destined to be unloved.


Who Will Protect Us From The Police?

Another uninspired lyric, ‘Who Will Protect Us From The Police’ has another fine vocal performance and musically it’s quite fierce but again it seems to have no real depth. There’s darting horns and great percussion but Moz seems distracted, if something like ‘Seasick Yet Still Docked’ is a novel then this is a magazine.


Israel.

‘Israel’ is fortunately more nuanced than the previous two songs, Morrissey seems to be trying to make the point that governments are not the people whilst steering clear of the actual conflict unravelling the area. It’s another piano-led torch song to end the album, not the buttock clenching song it could’ve been.


So in the end ‘Low in High School’ starts off exceptionally strong and has some great songs thatif  stripped of the frowning dissection currently being applied to the album due to Morrissey’s usual uncompromising worldview would be welcomed heartily with open arms.


If Morrissey had less half-formed political views and more focus on the human condition then possibly this would be a huge album in the league of ‘You Are The Quarry’ or ‘Your Arsenal’ but instead as there’s more media mileage to be had from soundbites and pull quotes damning the album which is a shame because the music in places is really very good indeed.

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