Steven Patrick Morrissey, better known as Morrissey, or just Moz for his creepy fans, released a new album last month. It’s just as moody and whiny as his previous body of work, but it’s also just as sweet. And if you came to the Arts and Entertainment section to avoid reading about politics, try again! Because we’re talking about the world’s greatest pop activist.
“Low in High School” is the 11th solo album from the former Smiths frontman. It was released by BGM, an international music company based in Germany. Morrissey hired Joe Chiccarelli as the producer for the second consecutive time. Chiccarelli has worked with The Shins, Spoon and Real Estate recently, and produced Morrissey’s 2014 album “World Peace is None of Your Business.”
“Low in High School” is a skillfully-produced, well-written emo-pop album. The lyrics cover a range of topics in a generally mean-spirited way, but that’s okay because it’s just Moz being Moz.
The singles “Spent the Day in Bed”, “I Wish You Lonely” and “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage” are bangers. I was pumped for the new album when I heard these. The remaining album wasn’t a disappointment, but let’s just say there’s a reason artists release singles before the full LP and Morrissey took advantage of that.
“Spent the Day in Bed” is a pop song through and through. I think it’s about being too emo to get out of bed but not too emo to complain about what’s on television. He sings “I spent the day in bed/I’m not my type, but/I love my bed”. He’s being cheeky (a British word that means “to be funny in a way that only British people can be”). He goes on, “And I recommend that you/Stop watching the news/Because the news contrives to frighten you”. I imagine Morrissey spends his days a lot like our president does: laying in bed and watching the news, thinking everyone on the tube is talking about him.
“Spent the Day in Bed” is one of the numerous solid pop songs in the first half of the album. Side A of the record is full of easy listening: classic Morrissey. The songs are loud and full-bodied rock n’ roll, and they’re full of catchy hooks. He doesn’t get too experimental, and songs like “I Wish You Lonely” and “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage” would be perfect for a dinner party setlist.
Side B is where things get a little weird and uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t recommend flipping to the B side at a dinner party unless you’re purposely trying to make a statement. He sings about Israel, police brutality and on “Bury the Living” he tries to convince the listener to hate the military as much as he does. He sings “No no no no/You can’t blame me/I’m just an innocent soldier/Give me an order, I’ll blow up your border/Give me an order, I’ll blow up your daughter”.
Morrissey has always been political. This is the guy who wrote an entire song for The Smiths about Margaret Thatcher being guillotined and shows animals being slaughtered for roughly six minutes during live shows while he plays “Meat is Murder.” What are his political views exactly? Nobody knows because his politics are just as vague as his sexuality. We know he’s somewhere left of center, and he lets everybody know they just don’t meet his standards.
I can say that he speaks a lot of truth. And I generally agree with him that war is bad, violence is bad, monarchy is bad, the news is often bad and staying in bed all day sounds pretty nice.
Morrissey told “Rolling Stone” that this album is meant for young people feeling directionless or hopeless. He’s asking “Can we ever feel carefree again?”. I doubt many high schoolers are listening to Morrissey these days, but it’s a nice thought. I think this album is more for insane middle-aged Morrissey groupies who have his picture on their bedroom wall and follow him all over the country on tour.