THE PRESS RELEASE: “Morrissey is kicking off the decade with his 13th solo studio album, I Am Not A Dog On A Chain, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Joe Chiccarelli (Beck, The Strokes, The Killers). It was recorded during sessions at Studio La Fabrique in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France and Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California. “I have now produced four studio albums for Morrissey,” said Chiccarelli. “This is his boldest and most adventurous album yet. He has pushed the boundaries yet again — both musically and lyrically. And once again proving that as a songwriter and singer, he is in his own category. In truth, no one can be Morrissey but… Morrissey!” Celebrating the announcement, Morrissey released lead single Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know? with Motown legend Thelma Houston, who commented, “One of the biggest joys for me in this business is getting the opportunity to collaborate with other top artists. I love the challenge to see if what I do can work with what they’re doing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I think the blend of what Morrissey is singing and what I’m singing really works on Bobby. And it was a lot of fun working with M in the studio too!”
MY TWO CENTS: I come not to praise Morrissey. At least, not for the apparently endless stream of wrongheaded, deliberately provocative shit that spews from his yap these days. Bigmouth strikes again, indeed. But I come not to bury Morrissey either. Chiefly because the former Smiths frontman’s latest studio missive — despite its clearly contrarian title — is another strong entry in his recent musical renaissance, thanks to impressively adventurous songwriting, Chiccarelli’s sharp production, a slate of strong performances and no shortage of Morrissey’s mordantly witty lyrics. If you’re one of those folks who can’t separate the artist from his art, I totally respect that. But for those who can, I Am Not A Dog On A Chain suggests the curmudgeonly old cur can still learn a few new tricks. Including ones that don’t involve autographing other artists’ records and selling them at his merch table. Sigh.