Am I the only one that thinks that in Jim Jim Falls, Morrissey is inhabiting the body of that girl (Michelle Carter) who went to jail for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself? Sort of like Jack The Ripper, Morrissey as ever the contrarian singing from the POV of someone bad or evil.
I'd say he's being unfair about Jim Jim Falls (the nasty song) - it's a Morrissey self-pep talk about NOT killing yourself. And he's also unfair about the 'far right' thing - it might have been a mistake to take on militant Islam with a crank party (& I'm sure he knows it by now) but I don't think he did it because he's racist (I think he was worried about religion killing people). But, mostly positive:
Morrissey: I Am Not a Dog On a Chain review — his best in years, but nasty with it
Morrissey’s love of solitude is timely, yet the finger-pointing is never far behind
Friday March 20 2020, 12.01am, The Times
Morrissey on stage at Wembley Arena, London
As the country shuts down, isolation takes hold and we figure out how to face a new era of solitude, it is apt that Morrissey should have a new album out. Here is the one-time poet laureate of the sensitive, the lonely, the misunderstood and other people who spent too much time in their teenage bedrooms. With the Smiths Morrissey offered hope to a generation alienated by the brashness of the Eighties.
Then the years passed, idealism hardened into cynicism and in 2019, after complaining for years about being wrongly portrayed as racist, Morrissey affirmed support for the far-right party For Britain — in an interview with his nephew. Morrissey is still a lonely soul, but where once you could imagine him wandering through graveyards, clutching the collected works of Oscar Wilde to his beating heart, lately it seems he has come to resemble a basement-dwelling conspiracy theorist railing at the world. It is a tragic development.
Good news, then, that Morrissey has come back with his best work in years and one that returns, at least in part, to the lyrical empathy that made him such a great songwriter in the Eighties. On Love Is On Its Way Out, with its arpeggiated keyboards and Morrissey’s voice conveying grandeur, tenderness and disdain in that way only he can, he asks us: “Did you see the sad rich, hunting down, shooting down, elephants and lions?”
He’s remembered that he has a sense of humour too. “Time will mould you and craft you. But soon, when you’re looking away, it will slide up and shaft you,” he surmises on the superb My Hurling Days Are Done, before recalling his first memory: Mummy and a teddy bear. This is what Morrissey does best. He articulates familiar sentiments, in this case getting old and nostalgic, in a way that is unique.
Things jump about all over the place musically, from the soul singer Thelma Houston giving it her all on the frantic Bobby Don’t You Think They Know? to an unexpected sidestep into rave on Jim Jim Falls and Once I Saw the River Clean, to the Smiths-go-country-rock of What Kind of People Live in These Houses? There’s even baroque classicism on The Truth About Ruth and experimental rock with The Secret of Music. It is a brave move for someone who at this stage in his career could have shored up his fanbase with rockabilly and torch songs.
Unfortunately, self-pity, finger-pointing and outright nastiness are never too far away. “If you’re going to jump, then jump,” he tells potential suicides in Jim Jim Falls. Whatever happened to telling us how it takes guts to be gentle and kind?
All of this displays Morrissey’s contradictions and tendency for unpleasant rhetoric, but his talent too. To have their former hero come out in support of a far-right group was the ultimate kick in the teeth for former Smiths fans, yet we should be grown up enough to see the value in an artist’s work without having to support their views, or even like them as people. Besides, our global crisis has made Morrissey’s love of solitude topical once more. As he announces on I Am Not a Dog On a Chain: “One is company and two is a crowd. And crowds are loud.” (BMG)