I Am Not A Dog on a Chain
It’s always difficult separating an artist from their art and, in the case of Stephen Patrick Morrissey, it’s impossible.
So while his 13th solo record is his most rocking and robust in decades — and at a strictly sonic level the most raucous since Your Arsenal — it is also a shop window for his increasingly unlovable persona.
Morrissey has always loved to taunt and provoke. Indeed, playing Dublin’s 3Arena in 2018 he appeared to extract as much fun from winding up the punters as wending his way through an occasionally glittering back catalogue.
Moz has, in the 18 months since, doubled down on his persona non-grata status.
He literally pinned his colours to the right-wing For Britain party by wearing a sporting its logo performing on American TV.
Last year meanwhile he claimed that Nigel Farage would make “a good prime minister”.
All of that burbles in the background throughout I Am Not A Dog on A Chain, recorded in Provence and Los Angeles with his regular producer Joe Chiccarelli.
That remains the case even as Morrissey belts through solid rockers ‘Jim Jim Falls’ and ‘Bobby, Don’t You Think They Know?’ (a duet with Thelma Houston).
What it proves is that Morrissey remains singular. He is also unreviewable.
Sufjan Stevens’ life and career is entwined with that Lowell Brams, Steven’s stepfather and the co-founder of his label AsthmaticKitty.
The esoteric folkie has already paid tribute to Brams on record with 2015’sdevastatingCarrie and Lowell, a rumination on his unorthodox childhood and his estrangement from his mother.
Now, to mark Lowell bowing out from Asthmatic Kitty, they have put together a collection of ambient noodling inspired, according to the accompanying playlist, by Cocteau Twins, Enya, Brian Eno and Boards of Canada.
It’s a languid, fuzzy-at-the fringes wash of electronic mood-pieces. A melody will occasionally bob to the surface before slipping once more beneath the waves.
But tunes often meander obeying no logic but their own, or often simply no logic at all.
There is little here to cling on to, though single Climb That Mountain is structured, loosely, around a spiralling synth motif.
Instead, Aporia is an LP to be listened to with curtains closed and the lights dimmed. If you’re not doing anything – and many of us won’t be for the foreseeable future – it is the perfect escape hatch to a more carefree dimension.