Morrissey’s new album, ‘Low In High School’, arrives at a time when he’s firmly established himself as your problematic fave. Yes, he called Brexit “magnificent”. Yes, he appeared on BBC Radio 6 and made a stunningly crap joke that implied UKIP had rigged the vote to ensure anti-Islam MP Ann Marie Waters didn’t become leader, inciting a stony silence (you’re not likely to see him on Live At The Apollo any time soon). And yet, and yet. Lead single ‘Spent The Day In Bed’ is great, isn’t it? Jaunty and melancholic in equal measure, it’s precisely what you want from Morrissey – and the lyrics sound like they’re from a ’70s novelty song. The rest of the album similarly lacks self-awareness, featuring some jaw-dropping moments of pure, crystalised Moz…
The lyric: “Teach your kids to recognise and to despise all the propaganda / Filtered down by the dead echelons mainstream media”
The track: ‘My Love I’d Do Anything For You’
This is the swaggering album opener, pitched halfway between the muscular rockabilly of ‘You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side’ – which kicked off his acclaimed 1992 record ‘Your Arsenal’ – and a brassy, horn-filled Bond theme.
Stuff that might – might – be about Brexit
The track: ‘Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage’
A doomy slice of classic latter-day Morrissey guitar pop, this one’s about a stage actor whose ambition far outweighs her talent. It does feature the line, “This country is making me sick”, which makes you feel like Nigel Farage having a lovely listen in a well-furnished drawing room while luxuriantly swilling a glass of vintage port. At the end, Moz bellows, “EXIT EXIT / EVERYBODY’S RUNNING TO THE EXIT / EXIT EXIT,” which sounds great (there’s an especially excellent bit where a warped gremlin voice shrieks the words alongside him before the track collapses into eerie laughter) but is certainly open to interpretation.
The lyric: “Say, Daddy, who will protect us from the police?”
The track: ‘Who Will Protect From The Police?’
Morrissey doesn’t like authority figures – high court judges are perched right at the peak of his shit list – but he does enjoy weaving depictions of father figures into his songs. This allows him to indulge in queasy use of the word “Daddy”. For instance: the yearning 1994 track “Used To Be A Sweet Boy’ (“holding so tightly to Daddy’s hand”) and ‘Don’t Make Fun Of Daddy’s Voice’, the highly weird slab of hard rock taken from his 2009 odds-and-sods collection ‘Swords’. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but Morrissey like to make us feel uncomfortable.
The lyric: “Gimme an order! I’ll blow up a border! Gimme an order! I’ll blow up your daughter!”
The track: ‘I Bury The Living’
A strong anti-war sentiment runs through the album. That’s perhaps commendable in theory, but the tone is often pretty condescending, with one line imagining (and mocking) the words of a deceased soldier’s bereaved friend or family member: “Funny how the war goes on without our John…” In recent years, Moz has delighted in saying things that you don’t want to hear and here he may succeed brilliantly in making you reach for the ‘skip’ button.
Various references to people’s crotches
The tracks(s): ‘Home Is A Question Mark’, ‘In Your Lap’, ‘When You Open Your Legs’
Not entirely sure how to relay this, so I’ll just come out and say it. At 58, Morrissey has developed a fixation with people’s crotches. On ‘Home Is A Question Mark’, he earnestly croons, “Wrap your legs around my face just to greet me”. On ‘In Your Lap’ he calmly informs us, “I just want my face in your lap”, and – well – ‘When You Open Your Legs’ speaks for itself. To which you can only respond: “Please, please, please, go back to banging on about Brexit.”