Last Tuesday Morrissey, somewhat spontaneously, if you ignore the non-descriptive tweet the day before, released his first single in three years. The single received it’s first play, unfortunately, on Chris Evan’s (ugh) BBC Radio 2 morning show at around ten past eight. The track was titled ‘Spent The Day In Bed’ and is the first of, hopefully, a selection of singles preceding the release of his forthcoming album ‘Low In High School’ on November 17th.
I know this review is coming over a week after the track’s first play but this is a conscious decision from me both because college and travel means I have little time to write and because my obsession with each modern Morrissey work only really happens after I am truly familiar with it, in fact it took me four listens to unabashedly adore ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ and hold it as one of the master’s finest works which, of course, I now do. That isn’t to say I wasn’t fully committed to listening to ‘Spent The Day In Bed’, by the end of the day I had listened to the track on repeat around 20-25 times and knew every lyric by heart. Sad, I know but train journeys are long and Morrissey’s voice is much more beautiful than the indistinctive chatter and clang of the national rail. Equally as beautiful, it turns out, is this song which remains an utter treat from start to finish.
Opening with a chimy keyboard riff that continues throughout, it’s clear very suddenly that this is a deeply produced and somewhat upbeat track instrumentally, even if the lyrics aren’t directly optimistic themselves. Bouncing, rhythmic beats proceed from off-kilter opening and soon Morrissey’s vocals fall over the top, rising and dropping in time with the instrumentals provided.
(Above) The cover of Morrissey’s upcoming album
As expected, and always seems to be the case with Mozza’s output, the poetic lyrics are the star of the show here. When elaborated on, the title and refrain of this track take on a much more tender and gentle meaning, ultimately transforming a song many assumed to be dour into an almost uncharacteristically chirpy anthem of self-care. Framed within the fantastic chorus decrying partisan paranoia pushing is a myriad of politically charged soundbites promising warmth and kindness from Britain’s favourite curmudgeon.
“No bus, no boss, no rain, no train// No emasculation, no castration”
This wonderful refrain is what ultimately concludes Morrissey’s enigmatic endeavour into self-love but, most importantly, is a conclusion to the subtle yet tightly strung political comment running through the entire track. Not one to hide his stances on political and moral issues, Morrissey’s new album promises to be as political as any other albums he has worked on including ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and ‘World Peace is None of Your Business.’ Boasting a front cover emblazoned with the image of a child brandishing a pick-axe and a picket sign declaring that we ‘Axe The Monarchy’ and featuring tracks such as “Israel” and “Who Will Protect Us From The Police”, it’s safe to assume this won’t be the most radical track on the album however this lack of outwardly topical comments is in and of itself a political comment. As mentioned above, Morrissey’s insistence on avoiding the news and seeming disappointment that all of his dreams “are perfectly legal” follow a smug opening phrase that he may relax in bed whilst “the workers stay enslaved”, however I would argue that, rather than truly smug, in the context of this track and the freedom from societal chains that is preached in the later verses, this is much more an image of disgust with the modern, oppressive systems. In regards to the somewhat vague comments on the legality of dreams, the image conjures up comments from previous works of Morrissey discussing the criminalisation of homosexuality, and so in my own, somewhat warped, interpretation I can’t help but feel that this day spent in bed is also somewhat of a reflective day pondering Queer British heritage. And of course, when discussing modern politics, we can not, although we may try, avoid the subject of Trump. Morrissey himself has made no subject of his disdain with the Republican president, bringing his band out in ‘Fuck Trump’ shirts and manipulating some Smiths classics into anti-Trump protest songs whilst the media have also done very little to avoid his presence, splattering his orange face across every website and news bulletin for the last 12 months. And so, ‘Stop Watching The News’ can only feel like a direct attack against the centrist apocalyptic coverage being spewed since the beginning of the American presidential election, and Morrissey is aware we’ll make this connection and that is exactly why he sings it the way he does and at the time he does.
Ultimately, this is another Morrissey track. Another peer into the mind of a troubled genius reflecting on the world around him and articulating what we’ve all wanted to for so long. This is also a rather delicate turn from Morrissey both in gentler lyrics, highlighting his worries about the wellbeing of his friends, and instrumentally in which a playful organ backs a catchy selection of repetitive and soothing riffs. We waited three years for this and, of course, it was worth it.