Moz’s First Original Material In Nearly 3 Years
Manchester’s King Is Back, And In The Form Of His Life
For fans, it’s been too long since they’ve had the ability to blast a new Morrissey album into their ear canals, he left on a high with ‘Low In High School’, following it up with an unexpected covers album in 2019, ‘California Son’ which proved he is still as relevant as ever. This time round, he’s proved his relevance and then some. It’s original Morrissey. Some of the material could easily be from the depths of The Smiths catalogue, or at least his first solo albums.
The album, which features 11 tracks, starts off with ‘Jim Jim Falls’. From a lyrical perspective, this track really is the true Morrissey. Miserable, yet honest. Musically, it’s not what fans will be used to. It’s got touches of Electronica, but still has that distinct jangly Morrissey sound which has followed him around since his beginnings in the music industry. It was nice to see this song debuted at his recent live shows, but I’m glad it wasn’t released as a single. He has definitely saved the best til last, and putting it first on the album, it shows his confidence in the music featured on this album.
Next up are two singles from the album, ‘Love Is On Its Way Out’ and ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?’ the latter of which features Motown legend, Thelma Houston. The vocal pairing is near perfect, as Morrissey is not as able to reach the notes he once did whilst fronting The Smiths, but Thelma Houston adds that in, with a touch more soul, and the result is the strongest track on the album. It’s got that new-to-Morrissey electronica sound, with a touch of ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ thrown in for good measure.
Finally, at track number 4, comes the title track. A surprisingly upbeat song considering the title, and the usual sombre mood to the majority of the material he produces. This is probably one of the best set of lyrics Morrissey has produced in his lengthy solo career, an attack on all the things which are wrong with this world. It’s a full on flick of the v’s to humanity, and let’s be honest, at times, that’s all humanity deserves. Obviously, when Morrissey is going for the jugular, some form of media has to be brought up, (I am not a dog on a chain, I use my own brain. I do not read newspapers, they are troublemakers) along with a helping of animal cruelty (Oh maybe I’ll be skinned alive by Canada Goose, because of my views, because of the truth). It may seem like a pointless attack on everything, but really it’s a warning for people to think for themselves rather than listening to, and believing every story that the media splashes everywhere.
‘Darling, I Hug A Pillow’ is the biggest taste of one of Morrissey’s love songs on the album. Swooning vocals, and intersting rhythms create the sort of atmosphere you only find in one of this mans songs. It’s easily the most romantic Morrissey has been in recent albums, and it’s pleasing to know that he still has it within him to produce material about love, despite his many years of celibacy and his infamous avoidance of most humanity.
There’s a bit of a strange vibe within the last few songs on the album. It’s all very out of the ordinary for Morrissey, he usually sticks within his usual comfort zone, with the occasional new and interesting idea thrown in, but with tracks such as ‘The secret of music’ featuring in the album, it’s hard to realise this is the same person who has penned the songs on albums such as ‘The Queen Is Dead’, ‘You Are The Quarry’ and ‘Your Arsenal’. It’s the complete opposite, more like the result of a recording session with every band from the late 1960’s than a track on a Morrissey album. There’s something weirdly soothing about it though, knowing he is more than capable of dipping his toe into extremely unfamiliar waters.
Things are firmly back to normal though as the album closes with ‘My Hurling Days Are Done’. It’s back to the soft jangly music with droning synths being a perfect accompaniment to the crooning vocal lines which Morrissey delivers as well as he always has done. Listening to this album, in particular this track, it’s as if Morrissey hasn’t aged a day. His music is, and always be, timeless. Nothing will change that. This track confirms just how good this man really is at what he does. Nothing to over the top, nothing to out of the ordinary. Just a man of extreme talent, showing off that talent to it’s full extent, and doing it bloody well.
I would honestly say this album is up there with his early solo albums, if not his best yet.
I AM NOT A DOG ON A CHAIN’ TRACK LISTING
- Jim Jim Falls
- Love Is On It’s Way Out
- Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?
- I Am Not A Dog On A Chain
- What Kind Of People Live In These Houses?
- Knockabout World
- Darling, I Hug A Pillow
- Once I Saw The River Clean
- The Truth About Ruth
- The Secret Of Music
- My Hurling Days Are Done