Review: Morrissey — Low in High School

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 4:34 PM
Review: Morrissey — Low in High School by Livia Homerski

Rating: ★★★☆☆

“Low in High School” is an album that Morrissey wrote for “anyone feeling academically or spiritually low in high school…directionless or hopeless” according to an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine. This is a fitting remark, since “Low in High School” certainly carries a certain level of angst only matched by teenager (or the weeping ex-frontman of The Smiths.)

Released on Nov. 17th, “Low in High School” is Morrissey’s eleventh solo work. At this point, it almost seems as though he should have run out of things to say, but Morrissey is not one to shy away from political statements, especially in his work.

The album begins with “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You, but the first track that captured my attention was the fourth track, “Home Is a Question Mark,” which opens with homey sleighbells and a cleanly, echoing guitar. The chorus pushes the song into a rock ballad complete with the Moz’s signature vocal theatrics. Meanwhile, the lyrics’ sexual undertones express Morissey’s desire to find a home in a land, or lover he doesn’t feel close with, but God, he really wants to.

No two songs begin the same on this album and “I Bury the Living“ opens with crickets and an ominous violin solo. Instruments then creep in like a mist and the lurking Morrissey proclaims, “A wretched outcast / With no point of view / What could I do?” This is where signature Morrissey shines through, he plays up subtle inhumanity in war imagery through the chorus with, “Give me an order / And I'll blow up your daughter!” However, his vocal delivery is too weak to push the lyrics to make the impact necessary.

“The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel,” an allegory of an outspoken girl from Tel Aviv, is a sly jab at the actions of the United States and our intentions in the Middle East. The sassy accompaniment of a salsa beat and Spanish acoustic guitar to Morrissey’s crooning makes for a snarky critique of political hypocrisy. Morrissey asks, “What do you think all these conflicts are for?” and responds crisply, “It's just because the land weeps oil.”

The topic of intimacy is another hot topic in the Moz’s music, and “When You Open Your Legs” is no scathing exception. Throughout the simple chorus of “Everything I know deserts me now / When you open your legs” the combination of autotune and reverb with Morrissey’s soft delivery make him sound like a perverted gospel singer. The chord progression also screams something along the lines of cheesy love ballad, but this works to Morrissey’s benefit if he was trying to make an ironic commentary on lust and sexuality.

Morrissey tackles these issues on “Low…” with thoughtful diction like he always does, but it is the music carrying the music that falls flat. “All the Young People Must Fall in Love” for example, is a very awkward song between the abuse of autotune and dated brass accents. This song kind of feels like if Morrissey wrote lyrics for a Beatles’ tune.

He does his best to comment on problems of the times, but in the context of the album, it kind of feels like Morrissey is just trying to be relevant to the kids while saying some very adult things.

Standout Tracks: "The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel" and "I Bury the Living."

Stream below:

Livia Homerski can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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