12 Songs, 53 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On his eleventh studio album, Steven Morrissey beholds the choppy water of a polarised age and effectively grabs a surfboard. Bracing, black-skied and wrapped in lyrical barb-wire, Low in High School finds the former Smiths frontman taking on modern propagandists (“My Love, I’d Do Anything For You”), abusive authority figures (“Who Will Protect Us from the Police?”) and lust amid political revolution (“In Your Lap”). There’s melodic light to balance the dark imagery, though. “Spent the Day in Bed”—a stately, piano-sprinkled riposte to the horror of 24-hour news—may be one of the most deftly effective songs he’s produced in a decade.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On his eleventh studio album, Steven Morrissey beholds the choppy water of a polarised age and effectively grabs a surfboard. Bracing, black-skied and wrapped in lyrical barb-wire, Low in High School finds the former Smiths frontman taking on modern propagandists (“My Love, I’d Do Anything For You”), abusive authority figures (“Who Will Protect Us from the Police?”) and lust amid political revolution (“In Your Lap”). There’s melodic light to balance the dark imagery, though. “Spent the Day in Bed”—a stately, piano-sprinkled riposte to the horror of 24-hour news—may be one of the most deftly effective songs he’s produced in a decade.

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About Morrissey

A voice for angry outcasts and hopeless romantics alike, singer, songwriter, and former Smiths frontman Morrissey braids punk’s iconoclasm with a biting wit and a flamboyant sense of despair. Born Steven Morrissey in 1959 in Manchester, England, he went on to form The Smiths in his early twenties—a band whose blend of shimmering guitar pop and self-lacerating lyrics set the template for an incalculable number of left-of-center artists. You can hear it in everyone from Radiohead and Belle and Sebastian to the downcast heroes of emo and alt-rock—even Outkast’s André 3000 once said he wished he’d written The Smiths’ lush 1987 ballad “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” himself. Morrissey’s solo career, which began in the late ’80s after the band’s acrimonious demise, has been just as fruitful—and built on his already-rabid cult following, particularly among Latino youths. Songs like “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” and “Suedehead” use misery as a sort of security blanket, a defense against the traumas of giving one’s self over to real vulnerability. Despite being a consummate provocateur—over the years, he’s taken controversial stances all across the political spectrum—Morrissey has always managed to shrug off heavy feelings with lighthearted indifference, summing up his legacy as such to Melody Maker: “When they bury me in a church and chuck earth on my grave, I’d like the words ‘Well, at least he tried’ engraved on my tombstone.”

HOMETOWN
Manchester, England
BORN
22 May 1959

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