Artist: The Smiths
Album: The Smiths (1984)
The Smiths’ self-titled debut is the black sheep of their discography; it’s a mostly subdued and morose affair with Morrissey trying to find himself. The mood is set by opening track “Reel Around The Fountain,” a standout slow-burner that begins The Smiths’ flawless track record of perfect album openers. The somewhat bubbly sounding “You’ve Got Everything Now” is best appreciated for what it attempts to be; unfortunately Morrissey’s uneasiness with his own voice at this point hampers what could have been a great song. A few gems are scattered about: “This Charming Man” and “Hand In Glove” are hits for a reason, more due to Johnny Marr’s guitar work than anything else. And then there’s “Suffer Little Children,” which is based on actual events. I’ll leave you to ascertain the details, but let’s just say it’s based on actual events. The song is one of the strongest moments on the album, and I can say with all certainly that it is truly haunting. A skin crawling sort of haunting, which is only aided by the addition of a woman’s laugh near the end.
The Smiths is a strong debut, but it only leaves hints of the true greatness that follows it. Even though Morrissey doesn’t yet seem to be comfortable with himself, the strong song-writing helps to make up for it.
I will be filing all reviews of The Smiths under both “Retro” and regular reviews.