Review Summary: Indie's most outspoken celebrity drops an uninspiring dud with 'Low in High School'.Low In High School
seems to be yet another nail in the already well-secured coffin of Morrissey’s lyrical aptitude. Never one without intention, the former Smiths frontman jumps between anti-Americanism (‘The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel’), popular anti-establishment sentiment (‘My Love, I’d Do Anything For You’), anti-war (‘I Bury The Living’) and other tried and tested anti-‘s that have cemented themselves in the heart of the politicised artist over the years; the problem is, it’s either too on-the-nose or too stilted to create the desired rousing effect. Even worse are tracks like ‘In Your Lap’ and ‘When You Open Your Legs’, which sound like they were put together in 10 minutes, such is the lazy combination of teenage-activist slogans and throwaway one liners that they comprise of. Could I do better? Probably not, but that’s why I’m here writing this, instead of ham-fisted observations and tirades about the modern world.
There are, admittedly, a few moments where Low In High School
is at least somewhat enjoyable. “I Bury The Living”, a 7-minute piece attacking the culpability of military personnel is, while hardly immune from the lyrical malady (“Give me an order, I’ll blow up a border // Give me an order, I’ll blow up your daughter” springs eagerly to mind), one of the few cuts here with some appreciable grit left in its dramatic, theatrical make-up. “Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage” feels like a ruby in a slagheap, as a focussed rock number with just enough catchiness and bombast to make its Brexit-centric storyline palatable. “Home Is a Question Mark” feels like a highlight, simply because one doesn’t feel obliged to roll their eyes every 20 seconds due to some off-the-cuff remark about the state; however, it only feels so because it’s so singularly uninteresting, a standard power ballad that’s so frustratingly safe in every way.
Indeed, it’s this issue of safety, most obvious in “Home Is A Question Mark” but apparent in almost every single track, which is the saddest part of Low In High School
. The dodgy lyrical content hardly helps, but it’s a forgivable sin – Lord knows how many examples of that have sprung up through the years. The crux is, for all the youthful posturing and his trademark antagonistic slant, Morrissey sounds like he’s 58, and seems to be content with releasing what so many of bygone fame have released before – defanged, intangibly softened spectres of their previous selves, set by predictable composition, uninspiring vocal backing and a growing sense of insincerity. Low In High School
is, perhaps worse than anything, insipid. Please, please stop Morrissey, before Radio 2 makes your next offering ‘album of the week.’