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Morrissey’s political and sexual interjections render ’High School’ awkward—for everyone

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Two and a half stars

Morrissey Low in High School

Deep in the cell of his heart, Morrissey believes that love can deliver from evil. But the way he frames that ideal on Low in High School, his 11th solo studio album, is the most vexing thing about it. Take the musically resounding opener “My Love, I’d Do Anything for You,” which starts off with this sentimental nugget: “Teach your kids to recognize and to despise all the propaganda/Filtered down by the dead echelons’ mainstream media.” The barely romantic chorus that follows hardly supports the title’s declaration or establishes a clear narrative. Fake news isn’t the only gripe Morrissey shoehorns into the pining of High School, its aimless and erratic lyrics—and largely underwhelming melodies—threatening to undermine the sweep of his voice and the instrumental robustness of his band. The arrangements, samples and mournful Spanish guitar make “I Bury the Living” a centerpiece number, with Morrissey managing to keep his anti-war ire focused for all of its seven-plus minutes. But the following song “In Your Lap” has the English singer volleying back and forth between oppressive governments and the crotch of his love interest. Escape as a lyrical device informs most of pop music. But Morrissey’s political and sexual interjections render it awkward—for everyone.

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