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Few musical artists would urge listeners to just go ahead and kill themselves already on the very first track of a new album. Morrissey is clearly not your regular artist.
The former frontman for The Smiths waves his misanthropy flag high on “Jim Jim Falls,” but it’s such a good song that you’ll happily bop along as he sings, “If you’re gonna kill yourself/then, to save face — get on with it.”
Track 01: Jim Jim Falls / 3:44
The 11-track album “I Am Not a Dog on a Chain” easily contains some of Morrissey’s best music in years, a guide into his one-of-a-kind controversial head, but also an album filled with electric and adventurous tracks that often shake his morose stereotype. On Chain he is vibrant, welcoming even.
“Congratulations — you have survived,” he sings on the lush and shimmering “Knockabout World” which is a very fitting cut for our Covid-18 times. He later even offers the hearty endorsement “you’re OK by me” on the song. From a noted misanthrope, this is huge.
Track 06: Knockabout World / 3:25
On his last album of original songs in 2017, he told us to stop watching the news. This time his weird relationship with the media continues, with the proud boast that he doesn’t read newspapers (“they are trouble makers”) but he still asks if we’d all see the day’s headlines in “Love Is on Its Way Out.
Morrissey’s animal rights stance is all over the new album, too. “Did you see the sad rich/hunting down, shooting down elephants and lions?” he sings on “Love Is On its Way Out” obliquely aimed ( no pun intended ) at the Trump siblings perhaps? On the title track he sings, “Maybe I’ll be skinned alive by Canada Goose because of my views.”
In a more pointed but sly reference to President Donald Trump and his VP on the synth-laden “Once I Saw the River Clean,” singing about “45 pence.” Or maybe we’re reading into it. He even seems to mock himself with the line “I see no point in being nice” on the title track.
The first single — the terrific “Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?” — is layered with drug references and has backing vocals by R&B pioneer Thelma Houston. The wacky “Darling, I Hug a Pillow” has a Mexican feel and “The Truth About Ruth” has the Spanish guitar.
Track 03: Bobby Don’t You Think They Know? / 5:46
Morrissey gets proggy and spacey with the almost-8 minute “The Secret of Music,” which is a tour of instruments, from “fat bassoon” to “angelic flute.” It’s terrific, hypnotically weird.
He ends the album with the wistful “My Hurling Days Are Done,” in which he sings with a child’s choir: “Oh time, oh time — no friend of mine.” We disagree: Morrissey’s music is aging nicely.
Morrissey still getting it done onstage.
I’m Not a Dog On A Chain Tracklist:
- ‘Jim Jim Falls’
- ‘Love Is On Its 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’