My review: MORRISSEY – I am not a dog on a chain

Morrissey – I am not a dog on a chain

My review

The archer of this millennium is back, with 11 arrows, of different colours, with a musical approach that shows new features, developments but that doesn’t forget his glorious past, the leopard can’t change its spots. His class increases, this album gives us a Morrissey in great shape, supported by a band that now more than ever develops all its skills.

“I am not a dog on a chain” is undoubtedly his most inspired record we have had in years, a look inside the world that gives him bitter, intense, controversial emotions and considerations, where nothing is superficial: the stories and the characters we meet in these songs belong to a reality in decay, forgetful of human experience and sensitivity.

They are tunes full of bitterness, discouragement, with not always hidden impressions of pessimism, no, Moz continues to show his black beats relentlessly, precise, direct, with the disenchantment of the path of his life that knows no surrender, stubborn, he still wants to open our eyes.

A heavy album, which takes your breath away and not only for its beauty … Morrissey is a sweaty archer, committed to fighting the main enemy: ignorance. To do that his arrows become poisonous and precise: the target is hit with perfect aim.

And the Music of this work deserves closer inspection for its variations: different styles and genres that amalgamate to give Moz’s delightful vocals a way to express everything I wrote before. The band has created a perfect arsenal, able to shake, surprise, motivate the Poet who, conscious, sees his wings open and his arrows take flight from his feeling of bitterness, shaking, yes, because this album has this prerogative: it shakes us from beginning to end.

Jim Jim Falls 

The record starts immediately with a surprise: electronic, indie drumming, a sensual bass, a melodic line of vocals that find a wonderful openness in the chorus and rock guitars in the background to bring out the song, a conclusion that is a cascade of light with explosive lyrics.

Love Is on Its Way Out

The new Meat is Murder is a passionate, melodic, atypical procession with electronic inserts and vocals that bring the 60’s to our sad, tormented heart, shaken by human insensitivity  advancing without restraint. A powerful tune in its ability to show the compactness of the band, with a conclusion leading us to tears with Morrissey’s voice that is spectacular, moving and able to reach remarkable peaks in vocal range. Shivers.

Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?

A melody that insinuate itself relentlessly, keyboards and bass that sit powerfully in our listening, Morrissey finds words that in their repetition are fixed well, a piano and a keyboard opening the doors of the melody while the drumming, with its rolls and its heaviness, make us dance relentlessly. Thelma Houston’s voice adds melody to the track and her vocal range fits well with Moz’s voice. In the conclusion, the keyboard, sax and guitar solos sublimate the song which seems to be a happening  enclosing 5 musical decades.

I Am Not a Dog on a Chain

The title track takes us far back in time: the Moz of Journalists Who Lie, of the rockabilly period, of Kill Uncle to be clear.

But then everything changes: the rhythmic, the power takes over in a thunderous juncture.

And his voice is a pin that stings and bleeds.

And the conclusion: epic, brilliant, with a gloss once again  surprising. 

This song amazes, stuns with its structure and presents us with the perfect cohesion between Moz and his band.

What Kind of People Live in These Houses?

What now? Nothing: let’s recognise he is in great shape!

Moz’s pen becomes even tougher, he hits new habits, education and more on a musical basis that is a perfect combination between his oldest songs and the direction of this album.

The guitars, which smell of 70’s, are Morrissey’s night guiding light: his invective relies on them like when he was the lead singer for The Smiths, shaking our conscience while the melody seems a moving lullaby: chapeau, once again!

Knockabout World

The minstrel from Stretford becomes shrewd, giving us a song that, with guitars made of echoes, a voluminous bass, horns and passionate keyboards, is full of modernity in its sound as never before, but with echoes of the 90s that can be traced back to the Manchester of those years.

A chorus in which Morrissey’s vocalisations fire up our hearts: we haven’t lost his style that from the Smiths till today remains intact. 

Darling, I Hug a Pillow

Now let us go deeper into that Latin America that loves Moz and that seems to see our beloved artist express his gratitude to it. But later the track is enriched with guitars that move the style towards the other side of the world, an English Indie that with  Gustavo’s chimes on the keyboard balances everything.

Morrissey writes a new jewel: words that are a gentle whipping. It seems painless but…

Once I Saw the River Clean

Here it is: the tune that doesn’t worry first (there will be another one) about the song form that has to lead to a chorus.

But it is perhaps one of the “highest” moments in the new album: Moz finds a melody and words that are perfect for this powerful track, Jesse is skilled at giving it strength and sensuality with an almost perfect arrangement and a sax that is poignant. The music here finds more space and the atmosphere is sublime, the voice is a caress in the middle of a gust of wind, but it remains pure and intact.

The Truth About Ruth

Oh, my God…

If you had any qualms, if you thought Moz had lost his dramatic nature, if you assumed he no longer had a song capable of being poignant and of leading you to a continuous cry, here it is: blessed be this man and his band.

A story that alone would dispel any doubt is enriched with an almost medieval atmosphere, a hint of a lyrical voice, filled with piano and mandolin, an epic and sovereign drumming.

Absolute masterpiece of the album.

The Secret of Music

Here’s the second song without a real chorus.

The Secret of Music is a journey with crazy, uncontrollable tones. It’s like swimming for hours in apnea, in murky waters in search of an inner calm. I am reminded of the sonic frequencies of dolphins, the sirens’ songs, an expanding texture that navigates in the depths, guitars chimes and a bass that drags us to the ocean floor. 

Morrissey takes our hand as a guide to other dimensions, in a hypnotic, obsessive track, an indispensable and powerful litany.

My Hurling Days Are Done 

We come to the end of this masterpiece with a track that seems a necessary farewell, Time is the priest of life that cuddles, breaks, seduces and upsets tirelessly.

A teddy bear leads us to a heavy tenderness, they are real tears the ones that make us say goodbye to an album that has been an incredible journey, full of new features, surprises, brutal truths and a reality to exorcise.

The singing of a children’s choir reinforces the sweetness of a tune that is an ancient music box about the ruin of current events that are shattering human history.

And Morrissey’s vocals are a subtle, almost hidden cry, where we’re struggling to find a smile that can hearten us. However, we know very well that he is not inclined to improbable things considering the current situation.

Splendid conclusion of a record: the bitterness takes possession of our lips, of our heart, but we just have to thank him for being once again Authentic.

Thanks Moz, Viva Moz!

Alex Dematteis

One Comment on “My review: MORRISSEY – I am not a dog on a chain

  1. Love you for finding the words to my thoughts. This Album is so great. No proper words to describe it myself. But you do!

    Liked by 1 person

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