Morrissey

Low in High School

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In the years following the 2014 release of World Peace Is None of Your Business, Morrissey's ornery contrarianism curdled. Once he embraced Brexit and flirted with xenophobia, he began to shed fans, including such prominent musical acolytes as Gene's Martin Rossiter. Defiant as always, Morrissey leans into these criticisms on 2017's Low in High School, populating the album with swipes at the mainstream media and contrived news -- words that deliberately echo arguments emanating from the right wing in both the U.S. and the U.K. Despite this, it can't be said that Morrissey is a newborn cultural conservative, not with an anthem that asks "Who Will Protect Us from the Police," the antiwar "I Bury the Living," and a host of carnal imagery that dredges up memories of how poorly he wrote about sex on his 2015 novel List of the Lost. All of these provocations are hard to ignore, as is the fact that Low in High School is one of Morrissey's most musically adventurous records. Opening with the churning, horn-spiked "My Love, I'd Do Anything for You," Low in High School touches upon several familiar Morrissey obsessions -- there's prog and glam alongside Smiths-ian jangle -- but the album also serves up swinging continental jazz, clomping electronics, drum circles, and even a feint at disco. None of these choices seem to stem from lyrical content, which means that Low in High School can seem as aurally conflicted as it is politically, and that may be an appropriate look for Morrissey in 2017: he's opted for a mad world of his own creation and doesn't much care whether his fans follow or not.

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