The Telegraph / Neil McCormick: Review of IANADOAC (4/5 - March 14, 2020)

Reproduced in full as a gated article:

By Neil McCormick.

Morrissey, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain, review: as great as anything he has ever written

20200314_054916.jpg

Morrissey at Leeds First Direct Arena, March 2020 CREDIT: KENNY BROWN.

"I do not read newspapers/ They are troublemakers,” Morrissey croons on the title track of his 13th solo album, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain. I guess he won’t be perusing the pages of The Telegraph to see how many stars have been awarded to his latest offering. Yet you don’t have to agree with his views on the media to applaud the passion with which he expresses them. What starts out like a sweet nursery-rhyme ditty builds to a spluttering explosion of righteous rage: “I raise my voice/ I have no choice/ I raise my hand, I hammer twice/ I see no point in being nice.” It is bracing stuff, beautifully delivered. At the age of 60, he is still making music as if his life depended upon it.

The underlying assertion of the album title, of course, is Morrissey’s right to express himself as he sees fit, and damn the begrudgers. His support for Right-wing political causes has created tension with fans who idealised his Eighties indie band the Smiths as liberal champions of the oppressed. Yet a streak of politically incorrect provocation has existed in Morrissey’s work since his earliest days and there is a suspicion that what might have seemed iconoclastic in a young man has come to be viewed as misanthropic for a mature artist.

Perhaps one of the reasons Morrissey gets into trouble is that he dares to embrace subjects rarely tackled in pop music. There are songs here that touch on: suicide (Jim Jim Falls); transsexualism (The Truth About Ruth); chastity (Darling, I Hug a Pillow); political despair (Love Is on Its Way Out); repressed homosexuality (Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?); deeply personal family memories (I Saw the River Clean); and music as an antidote to depression (The Secret of Music). It is an album bursting with epigrammatic phrases, ridiculous rhymes, huge melodies and provocative opinions. The sound is brash and arresting. American producer Joe Chiccarelli (with whom Morrissey has worked since 2015) dials up the electronica, fusing synths with more familiar gothic rock and baroque elements, while Morrissey’s assured, inimitable voice glides airily above the mayhem.

Knockabout World is an anthem for the bullied that ends with a cheerful singalong of “You’re OK by me!” Yet he can switch from empathetic humanity to the mean-spirited trolling of What Kind of People Live in These Houses?, a jangling guitar romp delivered with the sneery judgmentalism of an angry prig (“What carpet chewer lights up this sewer?/ What dented gent bends over in this tent?”). Morrissey remains a deeply complicated character, parading his brittle psychology in song; you don’t have to like everything he creates to respect such absolute commitment to his art.

The album ends beautifully with My Hurling Days Are Done, a song as great as any he has ever written. “Time is no friend of mine,” he sings, sadly. Erstwhile fans who might prefer Morrissey to shut up and go away should be careful what they wish for.

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain is released by BMG on March 20"


Regards,
FWD.
 

Comments

Mozmar

Well-Known Member
Reproduced in full as a gated article:

By Neil McCormick.

Morrissey, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain, review: as great as anything he has ever written

View attachment 55098

Morrissey at Leeds First Direct Arena, March 2020 CREDIT: KENNY BROWN.

"I do not read newspapers/ They are troublemakers,” Morrissey croons on the title track of his 13th solo album, I Am Not a Dog on a Chain. I guess he won’t be perusing the pages of The Telegraph to see how many stars have been awarded to his latest offering. Yet you don’t have to agree with his views on the media to applaud the passion with which he expresses them. What starts out like a sweet nursery-rhyme ditty builds to a spluttering explosion of righteous rage: “I raise my voice/ I have no choice/ I raise my hand, I hammer twice/ I see no point in being nice.” It is bracing stuff, beautifully delivered. At the age of 60, he is still making music as if his life depended upon it.

The underlying assertion of the album title, of course, is Morrissey’s right to express himself as he sees fit, and damn the begrudgers. His support for Right-wing political causes has created tension with fans who idealised his Eighties indie band the Smiths as liberal champions of the oppressed. Yet a streak of politically incorrect provocation has existed in Morrissey’s work since his earliest days and there is a suspicion that what might have seemed iconoclastic in a young man has come to be viewed as misanthropic for a mature artist.

Perhaps one of the reasons Morrissey gets into trouble is that he dares to embrace subjects rarely tackled in pop music. There are songs here that touch on: suicide (Jim Jim Falls); transsexualism (The Truth About Ruth); chastity (Darling, I Hug a Pillow); political despair (Love Is on Its Way Out); repressed homosexuality (Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?); deeply personal family memories (I Saw the River Clean); and music as an antidote to depression (The Secret of Music). It is an album bursting with epigrammatic phrases, ridiculous rhymes, huge melodies and provocative opinions. The sound is brash and arresting. American producer Joe Chiccarelli (with whom Morrissey has worked since 2015) dials up the electronica, fusing synths with more familiar gothic rock and baroque elements, while Morrissey’s assured, inimitable voice glides airily above the mayhem.

Knockabout World is an anthem for the bullied that ends with a cheerful singalong of “You’re OK by me!” Yet he can switch from empathetic humanity to the mean-spirited trolling of What Kind of People Live in These Houses?, a jangling guitar romp delivered with the sneery judgmentalism of an angry prig (“What carpet chewer lights up this sewer?/ What dented gent bends over in this tent?”). Morrissey remains a deeply complicated character, parading his brittle psychology in song; you don’t have to like everything he creates to respect such absolute commitment to his art.

The album ends beautifully with My Hurling Days Are Done, a song as great as any he has ever written. “Time is no friend of mine,” he sings, sadly. Erstwhile fans who might prefer Morrissey to shut up and go away should be careful what they wish for.

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain is released by BMG on March 20"


Regards,
FWD.
Just to add a pic of the 4/5 stars, which I couldn't see via the link FWD posted.

telg.JPG
 

The Chameleon

#KingGamma
This writer thinks "Bobby" is about repressed homosexuality, which would be the first guess if he'd only read the title. That's what I thought it would be about too since it's a Morrissey song, but I wonder if he listened to it?
And the lines in "What Kind Of People Live In These Houses," the song that actually is about "repressed homosexuality" don't seem cruel to me. I think it's hilarious that Morrissey is singing about a "carpet chewer" aka "rug muncher" but how did he miss using bent instead of bend to make four rhymes in one line? It's like he never heard of Lil Wayne.
I think it's time to stop talking about politics because the problem is you get morons ^^^ defending him (and bitter old cranks attacking him) and they just make it worse. I have forgiven Morrissey. Not that he cares, but it doesn't matter. We've all had time to discuss his various comments. It doesn't matter. He's got a great new record, the best one in a long time, and let's focus on that for now.
I think the point here is that most of these reviewers seem well aware that Morrissey has come up with a record worthy of his reputation and status and whatever they might think of him personally, as an artist he can't be denied. Let's just celebrate that because, in my opinion, his output has been pretty bleak for about three records and the way things were going any of those could have been the last one.
With this I think he's opening a whole new chapter.
 

Orson Swells

Well-Known Member
This writer thinks "Bobby" is about repressed homosexuality, which would be the first guess if he'd only read the title. That's what I thought it would be about too since it's a Morrissey song, but I wonder if he listened to it?
It's the "Aren't you tired of pretending? I know, you're tortured below..." part that suggests the repressed sexuality reading. It's not an uncommon theme for Morrissey, of course!

I think the point here is that most of these reviewers seem well aware that Morrissey has come up with a record worthy of his reputation and status and whatever they might think of him personally, as an artist he can't be denied.
Listening to the album certainly shows up the hatchet job that was the Quantick review.

The Guardian are going to be in a quandary over this record. I still reckon they'll stick to their guns and give it 1 or 2 out of 5, but it'll be interesting to see how they justify that.
 

NealCassidy

FREE SPEECH
Very good and ‘sounds’ really great in parts, where In your lap or Israel didn’t
 

Mozmar

Well-Known Member
“Tortured down below” suggests repressed sexuality. Surprised at the drug reading.
Yeah there was an in-depth thread on here at the time of Bobby's release, culminating in the common view it was about Bobby Hatfield (Righteous Bros) drugs problem, especially given the many alt names/references to different drugs. Nobody went firm on the sexuality references I don't think though at the time.
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
Great review. Neil McCormick has long been a fan, and is one of the UK's most respected music journalists. I'm always interested to see what he thinks because he usually has something intelligent to say.
 
T

Trans

Guest
Fwd mentioned that morrissey once noted something about Bobby’s fire, in reference to his singing, coming from below or something maybe along those lines (maybe in auto biography). That said serious drugs will affect your stomach
 

Peppermint

Well-Known Member
Laughable. Heap praise on someone giving a good review. Release the hounds on those that don't.
Laughable is thinking I want to protect him from criticism. Where have I 'released the hounds' on those giving bad reviews? I'm simply commenting that it's a good review, which it is, from a reviewer I happen to like. If I want to praise or criticise Morrissey - and I regularly do plenty of the latter - I don't need your permission, thanks.
 

Famous when dead

Vulgarian
Moderator
Thank you Anon & @Mozmar, I think I caught the review a couple of minutes after it went up. I guess it got a score thereafter - not sure why it was omitted in the first place. Scored reviews help with the wiki, archive et al...
So it's appreciated.
Regards,
FWD.
 
E

endingtodayqa

Guest
Laughable. Heap praise on someone giving a good review. Release the hounds on those that don't.
Peppermint seems pretty sane to me.
Neil Mc is a highly respected and knowledgeable critic not just a "someone".
With Fiona Dodwell you might have an argument about her credentials as a music critic but not Neil Mc.
 

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