Thor­oughly mod­ern Mozza

Hav­ing mas­tered the art of trolling lib­er­als, Mor­ris­sey em­braces his next task: kill off the al­bum

Esquire (UK) - - Culture -

Though some fans of The Smiths might wish they’d pre­served him in vine­gar some time around 1986, the con­tin­ued ca­reer of Mor­ris­sey has left us all in a bit of a pickle. What to do with the man, once a waft­ing fire­brand, now a mid­dleaged con­trar­ian? He’s still pro­duc­ing punchy mu­sic, but so too is he letting rip with un­hinged po­lit­i­cal ideas (see his re­cent thoughts on the Ukip lead­er­ship elec­tions) that make it hard to know whether he should be hu­moured or hushed.

Yet per­haps Mor­ris­sey was made for th­ese times, when out­ra­geous sen­ti­ments can be ca­su­ally ex­pressed, widely cir­cu­lated, and al­most as quickly for­got­ten. And now, with his new al­bum, Low in High School, he’s ex­em­pli­fy­ing a new phe­nom­e­non in the age of the playlist: the re­dun­dancy of the LP.

The first half of the al­bum is ac­tu­ally a bit of a lark. It opens with a howl like a sex­u­ally frus­trated chim­panzee, ush­er­ing “My Love, I’d do Any­thing for You”, which is swag­ger­ing and full of ma­jes­tic trom­bones. Then there’s the hearty elec­tro of “I Wish You Lonely”, a call for in­de­pen­dent thought free of civic bur­den, un­like the tombs “full of fools who gave their lives upon com­mand”. Lead sin­gle “Spent the Day in Bed” is another jaunty plea to opt out of so­ci­etal norms (“no bus, no boss, no rain, no train”) and comes with a video fea­tur­ing Mor­ris­sey be­ing pushed in a wheel­chair by another adept com­men­ta­tor of the Twit­ter era, Joey Bar­ton.

But an al­bum is sooooo long, es­pe­cially for th­ese flighty mil­len­ni­als. And here Mor­ris­sey shows him­self to be de­cid­edly 21st cen­tury. For the sec­ond half, pro­ceed with cau­tion. The mus­cu­lar bal­lad “In Your Lap” makes a pe­cu­liar anal­ogy be­tween the Arab Spring and oral sex, and then there’s the bizarre tango of “When You Open Your Legs” (spot any themes?). By the time you hit gothic wail-a-thon al­bum closer “Is­rael” you’re 100 per cent ready to con­fine the con­cept of the full-length al­bum to the dust­bin of his­tory and get back to those LOL catz.

Job done.

Low in High School by Mor­ris­sey is out on 17 Novem­ber (Eti­enne Records/BMG)

Head­mas­ter rit­ual: Mor­ris­sey’s lat­est re­lease, Low in High School, is his 11th solo al­bum

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