The Smiths
The Smiths


4.0
excellent

Review

by Justin Swope USER (81 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2013 | 24 replies | 1,190 views


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For The Smiths, happiness does not come easily, but powerful, moving songwriting certainly does.

8 of 8 thought this review was well written

Sadness is a fundamental part of life. Some people are unable to live with it, but it's truly impossible to live without it. The Smiths bathe in their own pool of despondency as a result of heartbreak, hopelessness, and depression, but they channel their low spirits into something positive, something relatable. The band's uncompromising bluntness shines through on their first album, giving each song a tinge of honest disillusionment as well as vulnerability. It's fair to say that on this album The Smiths are paving their own road, attaching mild sorrow onto their music but mocking it as well.

One of The Smiths' crown jewels is Morrissey's witty lyricism. His words are enough to upset you and make you chuckle at the same time. On "You've Got Everything Now", he sings, "No I've never had a job because I've never wanted one." as he broods over the fact that he has been surpassed by those around him financially and socially. Despite Morrissey's tongue-in-cheek deliveries, his voice carries an air of exhaustion. Songs like "I Don't Owe You Anything" and "Reel Around the Fountain" really expose the nature of his tortured persona. When he sings, "I could have been wild and I could have been free, but nature played this trick on me" on the track "Pretty Girls Make Graves", all the regret and all the distress rises to the surface. What Morrissey pensively dwells upon is completely grounded in reality: low self-esteem, botched relationships, and unfulfilled dreams.

However, there is much more to The Smiths than Morrissey. Guitar virtuoso Johnny Marr has a tremendous influence on the band's sound, showcasing his remarkable aptitude for laying down superb guitar licks and melodies. The jangle of his guitar travels so unencumbered above the drums and bass to the point that it becomes the essence of the album's sonic field. His vibrant guitar-playing steals the show on tracks like "What Difference Does It Make?" and "Still Ill". On the concise gem "This Charming Man", Marr's guitar underscores Morrissey's strained vocals as he sings about the tribulations of social hierarchy. The Smiths presents a steamy atmosphere, but it is far from domineering.

In fact, The Smiths are sometimes at their best when they are slowing the pace and adopting pure solemnity in their music. "Suffer Little Children" is inconceivably bleak, as the band throws out their sneering bitterness to deliver a quiet dirge. Lyrics like "Fresh lilaced moorland fields cannot hide the stolid stench of death" and "Oh John, you'll never be a man and you'll never see your home again" carry a degree of shock value and make the song all the more dreary and true to life. Despite some dark turns on the album, The Smiths stay true to their own unique assets and always seem willing to put themselves out there.

The album's production is minimalistic but fitting for The Smiths' alternative edge. Everything from the instruments to the vocals sound naked, capturing the fervent and unfiltered thoughts that materialize over the course of the record. Many of these thoughts are ones that would not normally be spoken of in public, but The Smiths treat this album like a private diary, filling it with overbearing emotions and musings. Images of a lonely man in Manchester haunted by his past are prevalent throughout this sincere stack of pleasant melodies and competent instrumentation. The songwriting here is tight but never stringent, cold but never high-handed. Instead, The Smiths seem content at the bottom; it's where their most moving ideas come from.

The Smiths is deeper than it gives itself credit for. Morrissey's inventive lyricism and the ringing guitars give the band a distinctive influence over the terse stories they tell. With time, The Smiths is an excellent grower album. On one listen you will find yourself deciphering Morrissey's amusing but poetic words, while on the next one you might be absorbing the proficient instrumentation that gives their music the necessary push. As far as debut albums go, it's hard to ask for more.

Favorite Tracks:
This Charming Man
You've Got Everything Now
Suffer Little Children
I Don't Owe You Anything
What Difference Does It Make?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

666

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


I'm willing to admit I "jus dont get it" but I believe in my hahrt of hahrts.

That this albums sucks.



Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

do you not dig good guitar or something wtf

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

None of the shitty indie you listen to would exist if it wasn't for this album

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


I dont listen to shitty indie.

I also dont like this album. It contains their worst song ever ("Miserable Lie") and a handful of capital "B" boring
philosophy degree nyquil.


Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"I dont listen to shitty indie."

4.5 Coldplay - Viva la Dicks

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"It contains their worst song ever ("Miserable Lie") and a handful of capital "B" boring philosophy degree nyquil. "

My god you're a pretentious wanker, what the fuck does this even mean

YakNips
June 23rd 2013



9409 Comments


I haven't even heard this, and I can tell this guy's a prick

Digging: The Brave Little Abacus - Just Got Back from the Discomfort

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


Yeah I am being a prick and I dont know why. Its not a bad album, its just not for me.

YakNips
June 23rd 2013



9409 Comments


That's fair enough.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fair enough

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


I always felt like Morrisey didnt quite know how to balance "wordy" and "catchy" on this one. Like, you could really read into his later works if you wanted but if you didnt they were just really great slices of pop music. A lot of tracks on this one feel very flat to me ("Pretty Girls Make Graves", "Suffer Little Children"), a few good lyrics without much to really grab my attention.

Like I said though, I probably just havent spent enough time with it. I'm sure the hooks are buried in there somewhere.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The other version of Pretty Girls Make Graves is better, with the better guitar yeah

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


That all being said, this still has some of the Smiths best songs ever.

I mean, am I going to sit here and say "This Charming Man" is a bad song? No. No its amazing. Ditto "Hand in Glove" and "What Difference Does it Make?" but a lot of this record just slid in and out of my mind fast.

And is the production kind of... weird to anyone else?

The drums have this cavernous BOOM to them that feels wrong backing up Moz and Co.

jtswope
June 23rd 2013



2063 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Kirk I can see why you don't like this. This isn't really made to be all that catchy at first but the more you listen to it the more it pulls you in.

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



1606 Comments


What really bugs me is this album is just flat stylistically. Like, you had so many styles explored on Queen is Dead - rockabilly, jangle pop - that this feels tepid in comparison.

That may be my error, comparison. Needs to be taken on its own merits.

Sowwy for steppin to your post talkin reckless :c

SCREAMorphine
June 23rd 2013



1752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pos, great band

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"And is the production kind of... weird to anyone else?

The drums have this cavernous BOOM to them that feels wrong backing up Moz and Co. "

Pretty much all the Smiths records sound fucking atrocious but hey you get over it

Graveyard
June 23rd 2013



5691 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the production is fine

Digging: Total Control - Typical System

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
June 23rd 2013



50043 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The guitar and vocals yeah, although it's pretty thin sounding, but it works with Marr's guitar style I suppose

Most drums from this time period sound like complete ass



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