I Am Not a Dog on a Chain is Morrissey’s first album of original material since 2017’s Low in High School. It’s an album that shouts “I still have a lot to say and I’m going to say it.” Unfortunately, not enough is actually said to warrant such blithering confidence. What this rendition of Morrissey has in talent, he lacks in self-awareness and 21st-century common sense.
The titular track “I Am Not A Dog On A Chain” aptly summarises what is wrong with the album. During the refrain, Morrissey sings: “I hear a call, I hear a cry / I raise my voice, I have no choice / I raise my hand, I hammer twice / I see no point in being nice.” These lyrics clearly reference the recent relentless attack on Morrissey by the media. The former “Smiths” frontman has been harshly challenged for his controversial views and has been accused of being outdated and out of touch. Here, Morrissey makes a statement that he is obligated to share his thoughts but ultimately, it seems that no one really wants to hear them. The song is dull, uninspired, and it doesn’t sound like Morrissey is on our side at all.
There are some more wholesome moments on the album. “Love Is on Its Way Out” nostalgically recalls kinder times, standing up against the “sad rich / Hunting down, shooting down elephants and lions”. As we stumble through this “Knockabout World”, Morrissey longs for times when his reputation was salvageable. Now, we hear the cries of a victim who has shouted and bullied his way into the public’s harsh judgment.
Musically, I Am Not A dog On A Chain is far from Morrissey’s best work. His voice sounds less passionate and at times, his distinct cry sounds like a shadow of his former self. The guitar parts are similarly disinterested and there are far fewer engaging riffs than on any of his previous works.
Overall, Morrissey’s latest album falls flat in every sense of the word. It is tired, depleted, and the musical equivalent of that time Shia LaBeouf stepped out on the red carpet with a paper bag on his head with the words “I am not famous anymore.” Morrissey, it’s time to move on. We certainly have.