The Listener

Like a Melanie Phillips column set to bad music: Morrissey’s Low in High School reviewed

25 November 2017

9:00 AM

25 November 2017

9:00 AM

Grade: B-

It is truly painful to criticise someone who greatly enrages the Guardian and the leftie music press, and has been doing so with enormous chutzpah for 25 years or more. Morrissey is of independent convictions, most of which depart from the facile, ovine virtue signalling required of pop musicians.

Take his long paean here to Israel, called, uh, ‘Israel’: ‘The sky is dark for many others/ They want it dark for you as well’. The Guardian’s reviewer moppet seethed. The NME just didn’t mention it at all. Me, I’m with him all the way — just as I am on Brexit, immigration, cruelty to animals and most of his other obsessions. It’s just that the song, ‘Israel’, is kinda awful. Not the lyrics, which are literate, if somewhat portentous, but the musical treatment — a piano-driven dirge, a grotesquely overwrought vocal and, crucially, not much of a tune.

Not much of a tune anywhere else either, except maybe on the John Grant-ish single ‘Spent The Day In Bed’. Too often, fusilladesof sonic effects are Morrissey’s crutch to support the limping melodies and endow the album with a fraudulent sense of import. ‘The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel’ is set to a dumb tango. ‘I Bury The Living’ is unendurable in its pomposity.

Somewhere along the way Morrissey has lost his self-awareness and sense of fun — there is none of the wry humour that made The Smiths intermittently interesting. It’s all a bit like a Melanie Phillips column set to bad music. I like Mel, and I like Mozzer. I just don’t want to actually listen to them.

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