Morrissey’s latter-day legacy has somewhat tarnished by his incendiary and poorly judged comments. From defending Brexit and Harvey Weinstein, his reputation as an outspoken contrarian has also seen debut novel List of The Lost universally lambasted. On his eleventh solo album Low In High School, Morrissey makes no attempt to correct the course. He’s made another album for the hardcore fans still with him despite (or because of) his wilful disdain for political correctness.
Coming to LIHS as a casual Smiths/Morrissey fan, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. The album experiments with a wide range of musical styles, with Spanish flourishes, jazz, and horns featuring on several tracks. It opens strongly with the horn-led My Love, I’d Do Anything For You taking a swipe at the ‘dead echelons mainstream media’. Single I Spent The Day In Bed is an upbeat, fun throwaway track, one of the more approachable and apolitical songs on the record.
Politics feature strongly throughout the record, no surprise given Morrissey’s public persona. References to Tel Aviv abound, and album closer Israel features a paean to the nation, sure to ruffle some feathers: ““And they who reign abuse upon you / They are jealous of you as well / Love yourself as you should”.
The other side of the political spectrum is represented by the anti-war anthem I Bury The Living, which starts well, but outstays its welcome at over 7 minutes with the refrain “I’m just honour, mad, cannon fodder” repeated ad nauseum. Who Will Protect Us From The Police is a more conventional latter-day Morrissey track, with pounding drums and his theatrical delivery of “Tanks on the street / Attacking free speech / We must pay for what we believe”.
At 58, Morrissey still has an incredible voice, rich and emotive. Judging by this album, he seems eager to experiment musically as well. While unlikely to gain him any new fans, or trouble the charts like 2004’s well-recieved Your Are The Quarry, it’s still a fine addition to an already broad and expansive catalogue.