I first discovered Morrissey and The Smiths at fourteen through a ridiculous quiff I had decided to sprout. A boy in the year above me asked me to recite some lines from ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ which he said was quite funny. I went home that night and listened to all four Smiths albums and some of Morrissey’s early solo material. To say I was taken would be an understatement, he was funny, witty and macabre. And I loved it. I may as well have had gladiolas growing out of my back pocket.
However, time hasn’t been kind and Morrissey is now more famed for his inflammatory comments on animal rights; award-winningly, bad sex scenes and support of Brexit. The gladiolas had wilted and my expectations for ‘Low in High School’ were low. But the full brass section, of the opening track, hits you over the head with a confident swagger fading out to screams reminiscent of ‘Vauxhaul And I.’ And this confidence is maintained throughout with topical and cutting lyrics paired with dare it be said – funky tunes. ‘The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel’ takes a story of political protest and pairs it with a sort of after-dinner, flamenco performance. And ‘Who Will Protect Us From The Police?’ mixes distorted guitars, synths and some trumpets to lament police brutality in Venezuela. The lead single ‘Spent The Day In Bed’ is an earworm that only improves with listens.
Separating the art from the artists is always difficult especially in the cases like Morrissey, where they are so entwined. But ‘Low in High School’ is an interesting and daring album that bubbles with the anger of 2017. There are on-trend musical flourishes and Morrissey’s voice is as good as it ever was. If you can overlook the man it is well worth a listen.
Photo Credit: @officialmoz