••• I Am Not A Dog On A Chain •••
For a man in his 60s, you might think Morrissey would be running out of ideas by now – but indie’s controversial uncle continues to push the boundaries with his latest offering ‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’.
As the dance-infused intro of album opener ‘Jim Jim Falls’ begins, you’d be forgiven for believing this was a new album from The Chemical Brothers. Well, that is until the trademark crooning of Morrissey begins as the song slows back down, partnered with the not-so-upbeat lyrics the former Smiths frontman is infamous for (“if you’re going to kill yourself, then for God sake, just kill yourself.”)
The album largely continues this path, mixing a fresh electronic sound with what has come to be vocally expected by Morrissey. Throughout, the iconic singer manages to take aim at animal hunters, newspapers and political voting. Despite such heavy issues, as has always been the case, Morrissey somehow maintains a sense of hope. Nowhere is this clearer than on the title track, with its Buddy Holly-like melody and driving beat as Morrissey defends his outspoken reputation.
The first single from the album, ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?’ is perhaps the album’s standout moment, seeing Motown legend Thelma Houston join forces with Morrissey as the song builds into a psychedelic sax solo and a huge chorus. While ‘Knockabout World’, with its 80s-sounding synths, is the closest the album comes to a potential singalong, and certainly a song that will slot into Morrissey’s live sets with ease.
Although the album loses its speed towards the end, the final songs have the potential to be the most interesting on the album. In particular, the almost 8-minute long ‘The Secret of Music’ deserves attention as Morrissey continues to stretch his musical limbs, delivering almost nonsensical phrases in avant-garde fashion.
Overall then, ‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain’ isn’t a world-beating album, but it is certainly another to add to the long list of Morrissey pushing the boundaries he sets himself, this time shifting to an electronic and synth-based sound. No matter what you think of his recently-voiced views, you can’t deny that he can still write a good song or two.
(Review by – Jordan Rodwell)
‘I Am Not A Dog On A Chain is released 20th March through Warner. Pre-Order available now: https://amzn.to/3aUfbDE
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