The Smiths - The Queen is Dead


Jul 15, 2001
The starry attic
The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
WEA 4509918962 1988
By Crumbling Mirth

The Queen is Dead has long been hailed as both The Smiths' crowning achievement and one of the defining and more poignant records of the 80s. And I have reason to buy into the hype given that this record captures Morrissey's vocals at their most passionate, engaging, and sincere, and his lyrics at their most intelligent with songs embracing both the serious side of things and the whimsical with results that are at times heartfelt and at other times humorous. Johnny Marr's axework has always been an integral aspect of The Smiths' sound, and here his contribution is as colourful and energetic as ever. And then there are the songs themselves.

Proceedings commence with the monstrous title track, a song that exudes darkness both musically and through its lyrical content. It begins on a fiery note and doesn't relinquish an inch of its energy throughout its 6 and a half minute playing time. The track concludes with Morrissey repeatedly wailing the line "Life is very long when you're lonely", and the record's tone is subsequently set in stone. Next we have the whimsical "Frankly, Mr. Shankly", a curious 2 minute rant in which Mr. Morrissey feels it his duty to condemn the mysterious Mr. Shankly. "I Know it's Over" is track 3, and a sad, sad song it is. It's slow, sad, brooding, and indulgent. And in the case of The Smiths these qualities are frequently a formula for success. The opening line "Mother I can feel the soil falling over my head" leads us into a very introspective look at an individual's life where vocals are complemented exquisitely by a subtle, restrained guitar line. Other noteworthy tracks include the gorgeous playful acoustic pop of "Cemetry Gates", "Bigmouth Strikes Again" with its memorable lyrics, vocal line and chorus, and "There is a Light that Never Goes Out" which impresses with both its sincerity and lush soundscapes enhanced notably by the dreamy orchestration.

"The Queen is Dead" captures the Smiths at their most thoughtful and evocative. It is a record of tremendous depth with musical arrangements that at all times blend powerfully with Morrissey's crooning vocals, which are also at their most potent here.
Someone bought me "the queen is dead" a long time ago, when I was listening to nothing but death metal.
You can imagine my response when I opened the present - but I was told "<i>everyone</i> needs to own this album".

And I wholeheartedly agree - it's one of my favourite albums ever.