THE SMITHS > The Sound of The Smiths

With the release of their first single, “Hand In Glove,” in 1983, the music of The Smiths helped bring the era of synth-pop to an end. The band essentially updated the jangly guitar pop sound of the ‘60s; for all the music’s histrionics, the songs were always underpinned with hook-laden melodies.Label: SIRE/RHINO
Rating: ★★★★☆

With the release of their first single, “Hand In Glove,” in 1983, the music of The Smiths helped bring the era of synth-pop to an end. The band essentially updated the jangly guitar pop sound of the ‘60s; for all the music’s histrionics, the songs were always underpinned with hook-laden melodies. But their lyrics spoke of modern woes. Being young didn’t bring joy, but profound alienation, as in “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “How Soon Is Now,” poignantly heightened by lead singer Morrissey’s keening vocals. Political issues were examined in numbers like “Meat Is Murder,” a heartfelt plea for vegetarianism. Even so, this collection is missing some of the band’s more controversial numbers, like “Reel Around the Fountain” and “Suffer Little Children,” reputedly about child abuse and child murder, respectively. This release is available in both single and double disc versions; the single disc is essentially a greatest hits collection, while fans will surely opt for the double disc set, which features rarer 12-inch single versions, B-sides, and live tracks. And though Morrissey and co-songwriter/guitarist Johnny Marr both helped choose the songs (and Marr oversaw the mastering), there’s still something missing; comprehensive liner notes, which would have fully rounded out the band’s story.