Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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The Queen Is Dead

The Smiths


Music to cry with or laugh at, all within the same songs.

Morrissey had already aspired to be the Oscar Wilde of pop music, but The Smiths’ third album is the first time he sounds like a lock for the title. The singular chemical reaction between his perpetual despair and Johnny Marr’s ringing guitars is indie rock’s often imitated but never duplicated formula—songs about sadness that are also a hoot to listen to.

The Queen Is Dead remains the band’s most dramatic—or maybe melodramatic—album, addressing Moz’s concerns with everything from stardom (“Frankly, Mr. Shankly”) to celibacy (“Never Had No One Ever”) to his usual arsenal of limitless self-pity (“Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “The Boy With the Thorn in His Side”). He even proclaims to “know how Joan of Arc felt.”

This self-parodic approach works best on the thrilling tingle of the incredibly romantic “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” where he croons, “If a double-decker bus crashes into us/To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.” There was never a band as openly confessional and conversational, so willfully sincere and cheeky.

“The Smiths were crossing girl groups with electro, believe it or not.”

Johnny Marr

The Smiths