Morrissey - Low in High School

by James Gerard Rating:6 Release Date:2017-11-17
Morrissey - Low in High School
Morrissey - Low in High School

There are few voices as immediately identifiable and iconic as that of Steven Patrick Morrissey.  Since his defining work with the Smiths back in the 1980’s, Morrissey’s solo career has been one of artistic extremes, comprised of albums that have increasingly become exercises in creative indulgence.

And while he has had his fair share of ill-advised sonic missteps over the years, at the very least Morrissey could never be accused of riding on the coattails of his legacy.  In fact (and much to the ire of many long-time fans), it has almost felt at times that it was all the man could do to distance himself from the shadow of his former group.  Low in High School, Morrissey’s first release since 2014’s somewhat tepidly-received World Peace Is None of Your Business, finds the Brit-rock icon once again treading politically-inspired waters.

Low In High School opens in a dramatic fashion, with the heavily orchestrated, backbeat-driven swagger of “My Love, I’d Do Anything For You” setting the perfect stage for what is to come.  Songs like the upbeat “I Wish You Lonely” and “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage” provide a sense of momentum, balancing some of the albums more epic numbers like the seven-minute climax that is “I Bury the Living” and the cinematic closer “Israel”.  For his part, Morrissey’s voice is in good form here, showing nary a sign of the wear and tear that one might expect from someone who has been singing for well over three decades. 

With that being said, for better or worse Morrissey has always been a man of poetic contradictions.  While the lead single “I Spent the Day in Bed” finds Morrisey’s trademark satire-laced wit firmly in place as the singer implores any and all who will listen to “stop watching the news, because the news contrives to frighten”, Low In High School’s lyrical content occasionally lands a bit too ‘on the nose’ for its own good, a point exemplified by the faux-industrial workout “Who Will Protect Us From The Police?” and the piano-driven “The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel”, both of which nearly collapse under the weight of their seriousness.  But for fan’s of the Morrissey's later day work, the singer’s penchant for unbridled directness (in place of his younger self’s more ambiguous approach) will certainly come as no surprise.

While hardly an appropriate introduction to one of the music’s most iconic voices, Low in High School is a welcome addition to Morrissey's ever-growing catalog.  And for fan’s that checked out after Viva Hate, convinced that ‘their’ Morrissey was simply a thing of the past, Low in High School may very well represent a pleasant surprise, as the record (in all of its resplendent glory) is easily the best Morrissey album to be released this decade.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars