The Smiths

The Smiths

The Smiths’ self-titled debut was an astonishingly fresh approach to guitar-based pop in the mid-1980s. The British quartet worked as a fully functioning unit with each member bringing an economy of style. Johnny Marr’s swirling, arpeggiated pickings supplied an attractive jangle and provided a savvy counterpoint to the band’s unconventional lead singer, Steven Patrick Morrissey. Morrissey’s clever and emotionally naked lyrics probed and poked into confrontational topics ranging from homosexuality to the pains of child abuse. The album contains many Smiths classics, from “This Charming Man,” with its indelible pop hook to the screaming absurdity of “Miserable Lie” where Morrissey becomes unhinged in playful torment. “What Difference Does It Make?” establishes Morrissey’s rhetorical side, while “Pretty Girls Make Graves” and “You’ve Got Everything Now” address the envy and angst of youth to stunning effect. Morrissey’s sense of a world gone wrong can be heard as empathy (“Suffer Little Children,” “Still Ill”) or as indignation (“I Don’t Owe You Anything”) — all told, a brilliant debut album from a band destined for glory.

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