Long since surpassing caricature, Morrissey has become a woefully irrelevant, bloviating buffoon who will say anything to remain in the press. Any semblance of the indie pop idol he may have once been has long since vanished, replaced by a confused, doddering old fool; the uncle no one can stand but keeps around anyway because they might’ve once done something worth remembering. Kill uncle, indeed.

Like the pompous, narcissistic philosophy major whose only enjoyment in life seems to come from taking a contrarian stance regardless of basic logic and reasoning, Morrissey now seems to go out of his way to say the most offensive, basic-human-decency-contradicting thing possible. His recent defense of the ever-lengthening list of Hollywood sexual predators is simply another instance of him opening his big mouth in order to strike again, not at all coincidentally at the same time he has a new album to shill. But just because he’s got an album out doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been busy in the three years between {Low in High School} and 2014’s equally preposterous {World Peace Is None of Your Business}.

Between announcing and cancelling tours, shows and festival appearances, espousing his own political conspiracy theories, urging a major car manufacturer to create “vegan leather,” decrying the TSA (“Thorough Sexual Assault,” by his reckoning), bickering with his label, former bandmates, world leaders and just about anyone else who draws his ire, he’s still somehow found the time to put out another album. But as {World Peace Is None of Your Business} showed, his latter-day output operates on the law of precipitously diminishing returns, having grown progressively more tiresome since his 2004’s cruelly brief return to form, {You Are the Quarry}. So, it should come as no surprise to absolutely anyone that {Low in High School} is not only a dozen or so further steps down the creative ladder, it also features yet another full slate of Morrissey at his most insufferably Morrissey-est, all the while slipping in and out of a myriad musical guises.

Stylistically he is all over the map – never a good idea for anyone, really, let alone someone with such a tenuous grip on reality – taking a throw-as-much-shit-at-the-wall-simply-to-see-what-sticks approach. Opening track “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You” is pounding pseudo-glam, “Spent the Day in Bed” relies on a club-footed funk groove and “I Bury the Living” goes for all-out theatrical bombast at nearly seven-and-a-half minutes. Yet despite this stylistic identity crisis, he forever remains Morrissey, the sad clown at the center of the storm. On the plus side, the album does offer some fine examples of the most Morrissey-sounding song titles one could hope for in “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You,” “Home is a Question Mark,” “I Bury the Living,” and “The Girl from Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel.”

Lead single “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage,” one of the album’s cruelly few shining moments, is the only track in which he somewhat approaches the Morrissey of old in both voice, lyrics and sub-Smiths arrangement. Coming in the number three slot, this early and only highlight makes {Low in High School} a complete slog. “Home is a Question Mark” finds him playing the victim, ostracized in a world that will never understand him and “Spent the Day in Bed” (an attempt at the topical) opens with the aforementioned ill-advised “funk” groove and assorted electronic squiggles that sound like Kula Shaker cast-offs. “The Girl from Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel” finds Morrissey acknowledging his rather inexplicably large Latin audience with a comically Latin groove underscoring pointless lyrics (ex. “{All my friends are in trouble/ There’s no need to go into that now}”).

“{You know me well, my love, I’d do anything for you/ Society’s hell/ You need me just like I need you},” he warbles on album opener “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You,” again forcing his unwanted opinions on the increasingly ambivalent masses. By the time he reaches the ponderous “Israel” (“{You realize if you’re happy/ Jesus sends you straight to hell}”), anyone still hanging on should indeed take a bow for having lasted through such utterly inane dreck. {Low in High School} would be low in any school. Consider it Remedial Morrissey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Molly Tuttle: …but i’d rather be with you

Thanks to Tuttle’s undeniable gift as both guitarist and vocalist, this covers album is an…