Monday, May 12, 2008

No. 481: The Smiths

Band: The Smiths
Album: The Smiths
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The band's first album, "The Smiths" is a clever little record highlighting the band's two great strengths: Morrissey's vocals and Johnny Marr's guitar.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: There's a certain sound and it's repeated. The lyrics aren't Moz' best. The band's sound isn't refined as it could be or later would be.
Best song: "This Charming Man" is among the band's best songs.
Worst song: I don't like "Miserable Lie"
Is it awesome?: Nah.

Like many debut albums, the Smiths' eponymous record is a hint at the band's later work while the band clearly works through its sound. Largely a contrast to the synth-pop of the time, Johnny Marr's guitar is still finding its voice.

Morrissey's affect gets a little tired. While his angrier work dots later records, "The Smiths" appears to be a bit more mopey and something less. Still, the lyricism i solid. Working off, I presume, his own pretentious mind, Moz drops references to "Ulysses," Al Jolson and Thomas Noel in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle," a song some misinterpreted as possible Dateline-worthy."Hand in Glove" is sweet and pretty, with Morrissey singing of a unique love.

The band's highlight, though, is "This Charming Man." An ode to the underground scene of the day, the song is built off a jangly riff and uptempo drumline. Morrissey's vocals -- including his sustain on the chorus' "maaaaaaan" bit -- are unparalleled. An uptempo, jazzy bassline keeps the song moving. Like many Smiths songs, an ambiguous sexuality flows the the song, a specialty Morrissey utilizes often.
"The Smiths" is a fine record, but not perfect. "Meat is Murder" and "Louder than Bombs" are superiour albums, but "The Smiths" is certainly a good start.

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