A Two Album Review: The Smiths

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If you’ve never heard of them, The Smiths are a band from the ’80s who lived in England. You may know the lead singer, though: Morrissey is a pretty popular guy.

I originally had my first taste of The Smiths without knowing I had. I used to be a big fan of the TV series “Charmed”, and if you were too you may or may not know that the theme song, “How Soon is Now?”, was originally written and performed by The Smiths, and then covered by Love Spit Love. It was also in the movie “The Craft”.

My next encounter with The Smiths wouldn’t happen until years later when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The Smiths song “Asleep” is mentioned as the main characters favorite song off a mix tape he received, but I wasn’t interested in looking it up until the second time I read through the book. That’s when I fell in love, although the song itself is about someone dying in their sleep.

A friend of mine recommended a few songs to me, which led me to buy two The Smiths albums: “The World Won’t Listen” and “Louder Than Bombs”. Yes, I did what I tend to do when getting into music my parents probably listened to. I bought “best of” albums. So a lot of the songs overlap with one another, but it’s okay, because those songs are pretty darn good.

I first purchased “The World Won’t Listen” because it had a lot of the songs I really liked on it, in particular “Asleep” and “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”. And for some reason I could only find “Asleep” listed on that album. But then I went to Tunes in Turnersville and found “Louder Than Bombs” which also had “Asleep”. I hesitated a bit on buying that album since it did have a lot of songs the other album already had, but then the need to hear the other songs got the better of me, so I bought it anyway.

Recently, I read Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney E. Smith, and was excited when I saw one of the chapters was titled “The Smiths Syndrome”. It housed a history of The Smiths that I didn’t know, and the advice that you never want to date a guy who likes The Smiths too much. I’ll let you read the book, though, instead of telling you about it. But it did shed some light on who The Smiths as a band were. And why their lyrics are so… interesting.

On my first listen of “Louder Than Bombs” I couldn’t help notice the chorus for “Is It Really So Strange”:

Oh yes you can kick me

And you can punch me

And you can break my face

But you won’t change the way I feel

‘Cause I love you

A little abusive there, eh Morrissey? Although the lyrics have the tendency to be abusive, needy, obsessive, depressing, and, overall, strange, I can’t get enough of this band. Their music is pretty simple, as it really was in the early ’80s, but I find myself swaying to “Panic” as it starts (whether for the first or second time since it’s on both albums) or “Bigmouth Strikes Again” (“Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking/when I said by rights you should be/bludgeoned in your bed”). I also find myself humming the songs like “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” and “Ask” either after a long listen or when I wake up in the morning. Whatever it is, The Smiths have won as my favorite band of the ’80s, no matter how strange they seem.

Grades:

“Louder Than Bombs”: A

“The World Won’t Listen”: A

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