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