Friday, May 11, 2012

20 Essential Albums: The Smiths

The Smiths’ singer Morrissey gets tagged as mopey, but the music here on the their first album, the self-titled The Smiths (1984) is not that depressing. Okay, there are lines like “slap me on the patio/I’ll take it now”, or “I need advice / nobody ever looks at me twice”. This album was the reflection of all the agony associated with an adolescent’s anxiety over girls and the general disinterest of the world.  Best played on a cold winter’s day, while sad about something.

While “How Soon Is Now?”, from the Smiths’ second album Meat Is Murder, became the big Smiths hit, it was a one off.  This album, with its arpeggiated guitar chords, was more typical. It was really was Morrissey, and his lyrics, that made this album.  The stories in the words inspired me to sit down and sort out the words to all of the songs. Somewhere in my closet a notebook is hiding that has them all scrawled out in blue ink.

The stand out track here has always been for me “Hand In Glove.”  Musically, the song is upbeat. No descending bass lines, no echoey guitars or vocals sung through murky depths.  Yet, sing along and you won’t really be uplifted. Morrissey sings, “And if the people stare, then the people stare / oh, I really don’t know and I really don’t care,” and “For the good life is out there somewhere / so stay on my arm you little charmer / but I know my luck too well / and I’ll probably never see you again.” Good stuff. Don’t let your mom listen too closely.

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