Album Review: “The Smiths” – The Smiths

Album Review:

Quinn Willerton, Staff Writer

The Smiths was The Smiths debut studio album, and was released in early 1984. This album included some of their most critically acclaimed songs, contains 11 songs and runs for just over 45 minutes. The group, coming from the UK, was one of the most prominent bands throughout the ’80s, and this album helped them reach that. Their music is a mix of rock, punk, and even indie. It peaked at number two on the UK album charts, with one of the songs individually reaching number 25 on the singles.

The first song on the album, “Reel Around the Fountain,” runs for nearly six minutes on its own. However, it beautifully demonstrates the lead singer, Morrissey’s, range and sets up for some of the more popular songs on the album. It gives off a very melancholy vibe, with the song detailing an interesting relationship between a child and a woman. The song exemplifies the negative impacts that women have on men, something that is prevalent throughout much of the Smiths’ discography.

The next song, “You’ve Got Everything Now,” is one of my personal favorites. Johnny Marr, the band’s guitar player, sets the tone right away, with the help of drummer Mike Joyce. It promotes a jolly song, but in reality it characterizes a man’s descent into madness as a result of being unsuccessful. The repetition of the title, “You’ve got everything now” expresses an anger or even resentment towards success. This could even be connected to the failure of the band’s first couple of singles, followed by the eventual success of other singles and even the album itself. In short, it is a very meta song.

The next song is one of the band’s most popular. The song, “This Charming Man,” is a jovial, upbeat song that exemplifies Johnny Marr’s talent. The chords are universally known by those who have heard the song. The song talks about a young man who is stranded somewhere when a man in a “charming car” approaches. We soon learn the boy wants to meet with a girl, but he doesn’t “have a stitch to wear.” It is a beautiful song that truly draws you into the final moments, in which Morrissey again demonstrates his vocal range.

The final song I will mention is “What Difference Does It Make?” This song again demonstrates the all-too-familiar theme of the negative impacts of women. In this song, it compares the woman to that of the devil, making the man “steal” and “lie” just because “you [she] asked me to.” In short, the song’s title refers to how little difference a man can actually make in a woman’s life. A man could “jump in front of a bullet,” “steal,” and even “lie” with little change in their relationship. The man is left wondering, simply, “what difference does it make?”

This album is a strong 8.5 out of 10. It contains some of the best songs from the group’s entire discography, but it also includes some of the more disappointing ones. My favorite songs off of the album are “This Charming Man,” “What Difference Does It Make?,” “Pretty Girls Make Graves,” and “You’ve Got Everything Now.” This album was able to make its way into the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, along with the rest of their studio albums. Unfortunately, the band broke up in the late 1980s, and the lead singer Morrissey ended up launching a solo music campaign that also garnered a lot of attention.