Strangeways, Here We Come
Sadly, the Smiths could not stay together. One of the distinct highlights of the 1980s post-punk landscape, the Smiths as a group conjoined the power of adolescent angst with gorgeous pop melodies. The marriage of Johnny Marr’s music to Morrissey’s lyrics came together for one last push with this, the Smiths’ fourth and final studio album. With Stephen Street as co-producer, the British quartet achieved a fuller sound that made Marr’s guitar colorings particularly bright with strings and horns added in strategic spots. Morrissey matched the production’s additional hues by writing another batch of punchy, pithy musings, including “Girlfriend In a Coma,” in which solemn horror is eased by an indelible melody. “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,” and “Unhappy Birthday” encapsulate and extend Morrissey’s heartfelt self-pity. He’s clearly aware of the impression he’s making and reveling in his own cheekiness. This playful demeanor balances the desperate anger that lurks underneath (“Paint a Vulgar Picture,” “I Won’t Share You’).