When one listens to the new Morrissey album, one immediately thinks of Phoebe Buffay in Friends; the song titles are comparable in the sense of their obviousness. For instance: Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On Stage tells a rather harrowing story. There’s also All The Young People Must Fall In Love, or even Spent The Day In Bed.
My Love I’d Do Anything For You is a strong opening for the album; however, the beginning cords sound akin to the a herd of elephants, trumpeting all in syncopation. The drum loop makes up for this, with Morrissey’s voice competing for, and ultimately winning, dominance of the song.
Above all, we need to talk about Jacky. The female character of Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On Stage grows progressively worse in its story, noting how the young woman loves the stage, and cracks when she is not. There’s also a lyric mentioning ‘sexual neglect’. It is a wonder what inspired this troubling song.
Spent The Day In Bed is as obvious as it is oblique. However, Morrissey has a point about not watching the news, as it can serve to scare with current world events. As a piece of indirect social commentary, it slightly misses the mark, however it is ultimately catchy. For any live performance, it would be easy for audience members to sing along: “I spent the day in bed….”
A particularly dark song is All The Young People Must Fall In Love; with a background beat of what could be clapping, the opening lyrics are “Spend more on nuclear war if that’s your chosen illusion”. It also makes a suggestion of presidents coming and going, causing damage and hampered by the role of Commander in chief. The less said about When You Open Your Legs the better.
Who Will Protect Us From The Police? Has a bit too much cymbals, and not enough discernable lyrics. However, it bares the hallmarks of the album as a whole – catchy beats, rhyming and repetitive lyrics, all with Morrissey’s distinct voice. The idea of free speech being attacked would probably resonate with younger listeners. Israel closes the album, and is a departure from the rest of the songs on the album. However, it could potentially be a divisive song.
Ultimately, this album is easy on the ear, and is pleasant to listen to. Yet, some songs were a little over-produced, and parts of the lyrical content lacked originality. It would be better hear this played live, as the songs seem designed to be performed ion front of an audience.
Morrissey plays the Brighton Centre on Sat 3 Mar 2018. His album, Low In High School, is available now, via Etienne Records/BMG.