'Low in High School' - Financial Times review (1 star)



Not sure if this has already been covered elsewhere:
"The singer casts himself as a noble outcast defying a cruel and authoritarian world but the songs go badly awry" https://www.ft.com/content/98b0b90a-c9b3-11e7-ab18-7a9fb7d6163e

Morrissey: Low in High School — rambling reflections, eccentric digressions

The singer casts himself as a noble outcast defying a cruel and authoritarian world but the songs go badly awry
NOVEMBER 17, 2017 Ludovic Hunter-Tilney

Following a kamikaze foray into fiction with his unreadable novella List of the Lost, Morrissey makes a sprightly return to music with Low in High School. But the sprightliness lasts precisely 28 seconds — the length of time it takes the singer to unfurl the first of the pompous, badly phrased lyrics in which he has lamentably come to specialise.

“Teach your kids to recognise and despise all the propaganda filtered down by the dead echelons’ mainstream media,” are the words in question; rumbling drums and attacking guitars give them an unmerited force. Morrissey sings with relish, the keenest connoisseur of his verses’ fluting contours and eccentric digressions. But after their initial burst of energy, the songs go badly awry.

“Spent the Day in Bed” somehow manages to be at once jaunty and plodding, a grimly comedic tale of the singer lolling in his pyjamas at home “as the workers stay enslaved”, flicking past detested television news channels. “The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel” drops any interest in its defiant titular heroine (a vague reference possibly to the writer Etty Hillesum, murdered in Auschwitz) for rambling reflections about oil, war and American orthodontics, set to a kitsch klezmer routine.

An overarching theme of sorts emerges, that of the noble outcast defying a cruel and authoritarian world. Convoluted sex provides one mode of salvation (“Wrap your legs around my face just to greet me”). A less acrobatic alternative is “to stop watching the news”.

The self-regard reaches a preposterous apogee in closing number “Israel”, a melodramatic torch song in praise of the divisive country, a recurrent reference point in the album. “They who rain abuse on you, they are jealous of you as well,” he enunciates with quivering fellow feeling, one misunderstood outsider to another. A satiric version of Evita’s “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” comes to mind. So, alas, does Morrissey’s calamitous decline since the days of The Smiths.

1 of 5 stars
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