Thursday, 30 November 2017

Album of the Month: LOW IN HIGH SCHOOL by Morrissey

There's nothing esoteric about writing music reviews. There's no mystery. If anything, the idea is downright ugly in its simplicity: you have to be able to distinguish a good song from a bad song. To which you could, of course, say that everything is relative and there is nothing more relative than taste. To which I would say that yes, dear, certainly, but that's no excuse for saying Liam Gallagher is a songwriter. 

In other words, when I see NME (why oh why did I do this to myself?) call the first five songs on Morrissey's new album 'passable', I don't want to hear one word about relativity. Because this, at best, is a fucking joke. 

But then it's not about music, now, is it. It's Morrissey saying this, Morrissey saying that. It's Morrissey being for Brexit (I almost spilt a good cup of flat white when I opened the latest Uncut and saw the lyrical 'interpretation' of "Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage"). It's Morrissey saying something positive about Nigel Farage. It's Morrissey writing a bad novel. It's Morrissey not dissecting the rotting corpse of Harvey Weinstein.  

By now, I honestly feel like my body is covered with a billion tiny snowflakes, and I'm not even on Twitter.

And not even because I care all that much, about Morrissey's views or any of it, but simply because Low In High School is one of his best albums. It's imaginative, well-written, provocatively bold. What more could you possibly wish from Morrissey? An album of Smiths' covers?

"Israel" has one hell of a vocal performance (also, I feel this is the right moment to say that Nick Cave got even higher in my esteem having agreed to play a concert in Israel despite any number of humourless people). "I Bury The Living" is both monstrous and monumental, and a great deal more inventive than most of people's entire careers. "Home Is A Question Mark" is powerful and heartfelt. "Spent The Day In Bed" just gets better with each new listen. "Who Will Protect Us From The Police?" has one of this year's greatest vocal hooks. The aforementioned "Jacky" is a stone cold Morrissey classic. 

I love the sense of urgency, I love the feeling of an artist having something to say. And I mean musically. God knows I mean musically, above all else. And also, just in case I did not make myself clear enough, I want Morrissey to keep inhabiting the world unpopulated by people who can't tell a good song from a Twitter feed.