|Low in High~School|
Morrissey — Low in High~School (17 Nov., 2017) ★λ★ Though the music is often engaging and exciting, Low in High School is Morrissey’s second consecutive release that feels regrettably tethered to his increasingly alienating public persona.
★λ★ Low in High School review — old greatness spoiled by ugliness and spite. Some brilliant lines gleam through the noise on Morrissey’s 11th album, but others — about war and Israel — are sneering and reactionary. “There are not many artists around today that can compare to Morrissey,” said Korda Marshall, EVP of BMG. “He is an extraordinary talent. He is prodigious, literate, witty, elegant and above all, courageous. His lyrics, humour and melodies have influenced many generations.
★λ★ “The music on this new landmark record will speak for itself and we are delighted to welcome him to BMG.”
Genre: Indie Rock
Birth name: Steven Patrick Morrissey
Born: in May 22, 1959 in Davyhulme, Lancashire, Manchester, England
Album release: 17 November, 2017
Recorded: in Ennio Morricone’s studio.
Record Label: Etienne Records
01. 01 My Love, I’d Do Anything for You 4:43
02 I Wish You Lonely 2:59
03 Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage 4:19
04 Home Is a Question Mark 4:00
05 Spent the Day in Bed 3:31
06 I Bury the Living 7:25
07 In Your Lap 4:36
08 The Girl from Tel~Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel 4:57
09 All the Young People Must Fall in Love 3:37
10 When You Open Your Legs 3:17
11 Who Will Protect Us from the Police? 4:05
12 Israel 5:56
★ Mando Lopez / Morrissey 1, 4
★ Boz Boorer / Morrissey 2, 3, 9, 11
★ Gustavo Manzur / Morrissey 5, 7, 8, 12
★ Morrissey / Jesse Tobias 6, 10
★ Steve Aho Copyist, Orchestration
★ Chris Allgood Assistant Mastering Engineer
★ Damien Arlot Engineer
★ Erik Arvinder Viola
★ Boz Boorer Composer, Guitar
★ Joe Chiccarelli Producer
★ Davide Dell’amore Engineer
★ Jim Dyson Photography
★ Alan Edwards Management
★ Lars Fox Digital Editing
★ Maxime Le Guil Engineer, Mixing
★ H.E.R. Violin
★ Peter Katsis Management
★ Miro Lagioia Technician
★ Emily Lazar Mastering Engineer
★ Songa Lee Violin
★ Mando Lopez Bass, Composer
★ Roger Manning Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
★ Gustavo Manzur Composer, Keyboards, Vocals (Background)
★ Andy Martin Trombone
★ Morgane Mayollet Engineer
★ Bill Mims Engineer
★ Tony Molina Photography
★ Morrissey Composer
★ Simon Ryan Artwork
★ Fred Simmons Trombone
★ Kathleen Sloan Violin
★ Jesse Tobias Composer, Guitar
★ Samuel Wahl Engineer
★ Matt Walker Drums
by Sam Sodomsky, NOVEMBER 21 2017 / Score: 5.7
”“★λ★”“ Though the music is often engaging and exciting, Low in High School is Morrissey’s second consecutive release that feels regrettably tethered to his increasingly alienating public persona.
”“★λ★”“ “I make this claim, now let me explain,” Morrissey sings after he first utters the title of “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage,” a standout track on his bizarre and ambitious new album Low in High School. Ironically, this is one of his recent statements that needs the least defending. Some zealous fans have suggested the song — which tells the story of a woman devoting herself to the theater after a bout of heartbreak — is an allegory for Britain leaving the E.U. (particularly after a live performance where he chanted “Brexit!” repeatedly at the end). But it plays more like a thinly veiled confession from Morrissey himself. “Jacky cracks when she isn’t on stage,” he admits in its final verse, as the audience flees the room.
”“★λ★”“ Morrissey has courted controversy and dared his fans to abandon him throughout his entire career, but Low in High School marks his second consecutive release that feels regrettably tethered to his increasingly alienating public persona. 2014’s muddled, exhausting World Peace Is None of Your Business was a career~low that’s now nearly impossible to hear. Shortly after its release, the album was removed from record distributors and streaming services due to a clash with his label: a move that feels as bluntly symbolic as, well, the conceit of a Morrissey song. If later solo highlights like 2004’s You Are the Quarry felt like catching up with an old friend, Morrissey’s music is now more like scrolling through their Twitter feed and remembering why you stopped hanging out in the first place.
”“★λ★”“ Since we first met him fronting the Smiths in the ’80s lamenting how pop music said nothing to him about his life, Morrissey has been adamant about imbuing his records with deeper political ambitions. But Low in High School returns him to his most utilitarian purpose: a spokesperson for youthful melancholy. This theme surfaces both in the album title and its cover art — Morrissey’s first in over two decades not to feature his own visage. The first single, “Spent the Day in Bed,” even plays like the 58~year~old’s spin on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a magical day spent shirking one’s obligations, delivered with a prescriptive, winking omniscience. “I’m not my type,” he sings in its funniest line, “But I love my bed.” Fortunately, that song, with its squelchy production and barely~there verses, feels like a pit~stop on the record more than a statement of purpose. For better or worse, Morrissey shows up to work.
”“★λ★”“ Like World Peace, Low in High School pairs him and his band with producer Joe Chiccarelli, who delights in exploring new sounds. While that impulse mostly served to gloss up underwritten material on World Peace, the adventurous atmosphere is more welcome this time. A dramatic army of horns elevates the swaggering opener “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You” to resemble superhero theme music, and the woozy keys in “I Wish You Lonely” make its glittery disco more infectious. The pomp and circumstance also inspires Morrissey to stretch his voice into long~abandoned territory, occasionally slipping into a breathy croon or the playful falsetto of his younger years. A few songs are some of Morrissey’s most engaging, exciting work of the 21st century.
”“★λ★”“ Other songs get your attention for the wrong reasons. “Give me an order and I’ll blow up your daughter,” he slurs angrily in the anti~troops polemic “I Bury the Living.” In a catalog filled with questionable manifestos disguised as anthems, this is his most unwieldy, tackling war, class, and suicide over seven interminable, mean~spirited minutes. Other epics about police brutality in Venezuela and Morrissey’s own sympathy for the people of Israel (“I can’t answer for what armies do/They are not you”) are more straightforward though they’re far from effective, let alone enjoyable. His lyrics expose the same insensitivity as his abhorrent comments blaming victims of sexual assault. He portrays the people of Venezuela as helpless and God~fearing, while opponents of Israel are merely jealous barbarians. As he ages, Morrissey’s worldview gets smaller and smaller, and his political musings all arrive with a crushing lack of subtlety or nuance.
”“★λ★”“ In a recent interview, Morrissey pinpointed Low in High School’s driving concern: “Can young people ever be carefree again?” The album’s most agreeable moments are when he posits romance — as opposed to bitter provocation — as the answer. In the breezy, stomp~clap swing of “All the Young People Must Fall in Love,” he vaguely takes aim at Trump and delivers the titular command as a beacon of hope for his devoted legion of loners. In a song called “When You Open Your Legs,” he sings proudly about getting kicked out of a club at 4 a.m. for public displays of affection, bellowing, “Everything I know deserts me now.” The sentiment is echoed in the stark piano ballad “In Your Lap,” which counters observations of apocalyptic chaos with dreams of oral sex. These are not his most delicate works of fantasy, but at least he’s practicing what he preaches. We all walk home alone, he’s reminded us time and time again, and if nothing else, Morrissey’s faith in love remains devout.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine; Score: ***
→ In the years following the 2014 release of World Peace Is None of Your Business, Morrissey’s ornery contrarianism curdled. Once he embraced Brexit and flirted with xenophobia, he began to shed fans, including such prominent musical acolytes as Gene’s Martin Rossiter. Defiant as always, Morrissey leans into these criticisms on 2017’s Low in High School, populating the album with swipes at the mainstream media and contrived news — words that deliberately echo arguments emanating from the right wing in both the U.S. and the U.K. Despite this, it can’t be said that Morrissey is a new~born cultural conservative, not with an anthem that asks “Who Will Protect Us from the Police,” the anti~war “I Bury the Living,” and a host of carnal imagery that dredges up memories of how poorly he wrote about sex on his 2015 novel List of the Lost. All of these provocations are hard to ignore, as is the fact that Low in High School is one of Morrissey’s most musically adventurous records. Opening with the churning, horn~spiked”.y Love I’d Do Anything for You,” Low in High School touches upon several familiar Morrissey obsessions — there’s prog and glam alongside Smiths~ian jangle — but the album also serves up swinging continental jazz, clomping electronics, drum circles, and even a feint at disco. None of these choices seem to stem from lyrical content, which means that Low in High School can seem as aurally conflicted as it is politically, and that may be an appropriate look for Morrissey in 2017: He’s opted for a mad world of his own creation and doesn’t much care whether his fans follow or not.
”“★λ★”“ “He was a man of thought and a man of action”.
By Jordan Bassett, Nov 14, 2017 / Score: **
★λ★ Moz’s strange 11th solo album starts off well enough, but soon goes seriously wrong...
★λ★ There’s no easy way to tell you this, but Morrissey is fixated with the bit between your legs. His 11th solo album is chockablock with crotch. On ‘Home Is A Question Mark’, he implores you to “wrap your legs around my face” and on ‘In Your Lap’ he delivers the grim news that “I just want my face in your lap”. You should also feel some trepidation when you hit ‘play’ on ‘When You Open Your Legs’.
★λ★ If the tracks on ‘Low In High School’ aren’t crotch songs, they’re anti~war songs. There are, categorically, no anti~crotch songs. On ‘I Bury The Living’ he bellows, “Gimme an order! I’ll blow up a border! Gimme an order! I’ll blow up your… daughter!” It’s no ‘Shipbuilding’, but it does drive the point home.
★λ★ Lead single ‘Spent The Day In Bed’ skitters across melancholia with a lilting refrain, while the lyrics — about the joys of ducking your responsibilities — sound as though they’re lifted from a ’70s novelty song. Yet ‘Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On The Stage’ is the real standout; a tale of an actor whose ambitions far outweigh her talent, it’s brooding goth~pop laced with venom. In fact, the 12~song album’s first five tracks are passable, if not actually quite enjoyable. Beyond this point, though, only the most hardened Moz fan should dare to venture.
★λ★ ‘The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel’ is an unbearable cha~cha~cha; ‘Who Will Protect Us From The Police?’ is lumpen electro; and least listenable track ‘Israel’ sees him deliver political polemic via the dubious medium of a piano ballad. Moz has become pop’s greatest troll in recent years, and here he’s exhaustive in goading you to hit the ‘off’ button. It’s enough to make you put your head in your hands. Or, indeed, your lap... ★λ★ http://www.nme.com/
Alexis Petridis, Thursday 16 November 2017 12.30 GMT / Score: ***
ψ There are not many artists around today that can compare to Morrissey, “offered record label BMG, when the singer inked the deal that brings us his 11th album. “He is prodigious, literate, witty, elegant and, above all, courageous. His lyrics, humour and melodies have influenced many generations.” An enthusiastic tribute, but perhaps hard for long-time observers of Morrissey’s career to read without immediately thinking: yeah, I’ll give this relationship six months.
ψ Morrissey fans are about to give up on him — Johnny Marr, please stage an intervention.
ψ In a world of flux and change, there’s a certain comforting familiarity about the arrival of a new Morrissey album. We’ve had stage one: the signing of a fresh record contract, replete with gushing praise. And, indeed, stage two: promotion of new album overshadowed by Morrissey’s inclination to make public statements that suggest — and let us pick our words carefully here — that some of his views may tend a little towards the reactionary. This time, he used a BBC 6 Music live broadcast to complain that Ukip’s leadership contest was rigged to prevent a win by Anne Marie Waters, an openly anti~Islam candidate. If nothing else, it was a comment that offered a chilling insight into everyday goings~on chez Moz: sequestered away in his Hollywood mansion, spending his downtime fulminating over the leadership elections of such a party back home. What a life.
ψ Which brings us to stage three: the album itself — already acclaimed as a brilliant return to form by people who can remember a time when Morrissey only released extraordinary records and know he’s capable of making them still, 2006’s Ringleader of the Tormentors being the most recent example. But Low in High School largely cleaves to the model of its two less stellar predecessors. Like 2009’s Years of Refusal and 2014’s World Peace Is None of Your Business, its main musical currency is wilful ugliness. Opener My Love, I’d Do Anything for You’s glam stomp is blitzed with corrosive guitars, churning electronics, a deafening, discordant brass arrangement and, somewhere in the background, a plethora of distorted screams and cries. Even the piano ballad In Your Lap is splashed with feedback and noise.
ψ It’s an approach that can be potent, as on the ominous synthesised drone of Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage. Yet once you’re struck by the sense that the sonic ugliness reflects the worldview of the man at its centre — the way the wit and compassion that illuminated Morrissey’s greatest songs has gradually calcified into misanthropy and self~pity — the overall effect can be hugely unedifying. Witness the abundantly nasty I Bury the Living, on which Morrissey sneers at a squaddie and, after he’s killed in the line of duty, at his bereaved mother. It’s over seven minutes long, plenty of time to explore a topic, but there’s no subtlety, nuance or insight here, just smug condescension, spite and fourth~form debate: the only conceivable reason anyone might join the army is because they’re thick and “driven by a hatred of all humanity”. You listen to it and think: how did a lyricist who wrote songs as beautifully shaded and empathetic as This Night Has Opened My Eyes wind up thinking this passes muster?
ψ But elsewhere, Morrissey’s greatness flashes into life. There are brilliant lines liberally scattered about — “I’m not my type”, “Will you wrap your legs around my head to greet me?” — and, on I Wish You Lonely, a piece of penetrating self~scrutiny that goes some way to answering the oft~asked question about what Morrissey’s real problem is. A life of solitude with only the Ukip leadership election results for company, it suggests, makes you “think of yourself only, of everything you demand, you want and need, and to hell with everybody else”. The two best songs might be the most atypical: All the Young People Must Fall in Love abandons the noisy grotesquerie in favour of something playful, largely acoustic and built around a Give Peace a Chance~ish stomp; When You Open Your Legs offers Spanish high camp, by way of castanets and blaring horns, and a fantastic, indelible chorus.
ψ At the other extreme, however, lurks the ridiculous closer Israel, with its overwrought vocal, klezmer fiddle and lyrics that offer Morrissey’s analysis of the labyrinthine complexities of the Arab~Israeli conflict. Don’t worry, everyone, he’s got it all worked out: anyone who criticises Israel’s actions — say, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories — is “jealous”. Still, congratulations: in the face of pretty stiff competition from both sides of the commentariat, this may well be the single most asinine public statement yet made on the subject.
ψ What it all amounts to is your standard Morrissey solo album: great songs cheek~by~jowl with songs that would once never have got past reception; brilliance alongside stuff that boggles the mind; not bad, but not built to reach far beyond his standard fanbase. A state of affairs that, alas, may bring us to the traditional stage four, in which Morrissey denounces his new record label as part of the ever~burgeoning global conspiracy ranged against him. ψ https://www.theguardian.com/
★λ★ Low in High~School was recorded at La Fabrique Studios in France and in Rome at Ennio Morricone’s Forum Studios. The record is produced by Joe Chiccarelli.
★λ★ The album will be released digitally and in physical formats: CD, coloured vinyl and limited edition cassette.
★λ★ Korda Marshall (EVP of BMG) said of the signing: “There are not many artists around today that can compare to Morrissey. He is an extraordinary talent. He is prodigious, literate, witty, elegant and above all, courageous. His lyrics, humour and melodies have influenced many generations. The music on this new landmark record will speak for itself and we are delighted to welcome him to BMG.”
★λ★ The tracklisting for the album has yet to be revealed. But Morrissey will begin his celebrations for the new album with a concert on Friday, November 10 at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles.
|Low in High~School|