Alt-Rock Review: Morrissey - I am Not a Dog on a Chain

Release Date: March 20, 2020
Label: BMG

Moz is back with his 13th studio album, I am not a Dog on a Chain. Typical of the tortured man, proudly standing his modest piece of ground, the title perfectly matches the sentiment within. Brutal honesty and spilling of one's guts to the point where the listener, for fear of crying, can't help but laugh. 

Other than the atmospheric, eight-minute petulant grouch-fest, "The Secret of Music," there isn't much to draw my interest beyond the tried and true intro/verse/chorus/verse/solo/chorus pop-punk progression. Beginning with The Smiths whose sound defined 1980's British Indie Rock, this formula has served Morrisey well, and the musicianship on this album is solid. Yet, it serves primarily as a foundation for the grouchy vegetarian's sulky bitch-fest, ripe with warning shots of impending doom and hell-to-pay for anyone attempting daring to approach his fragile ego.  

Somewhere within this ridiculous self-indulgence lies the sublime. Worthy moments beckon the disaffected and marginalized and shine a light forward. On the title track, Moz bellows, "open up your nervous mouth and feel the words come streaming out… For otherwise, you'll never know who you are or all that you can do. If you want to" On "Knockabout World," Morrisey belts in his lush, dramatic tone, "Congratulations, you're still okay. I'd kiss your lips off any day." There is no shortage of sage advice from the aging prima donna either, "Time will mold you and craft you. But soon, when you're looking away. It will slide up and shaft you." 

As we've come to know about Morrisey, things can turn dark in a hurry. On "Jim Jim Falls," he encourages a poor indecisive soul to commit suicide. "If you're going to jump, then jump. If you're going to run home and cry, then don't waste my time. If you're going to kill yourself, then to save face, get on with it." There is no shortage of paranoia either, "Time will come, but it hasn't yet. "Someone's out to get me."  

All in all, Morrisey continues to play the victim on this slightly different spin of the same-old, same-old. He has failed to find any new ground, and instead of taking his profound lyrical instincts to blaze a new path forward, he insists on standing his ground, shouting like a disgruntled diva into the void while the world collapses around him.

- Tom Endyke | Guitar & Pen

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