Rewind: The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead


Love him or hate him (there is no other option), Morrissey is back with new album Low in High School, set for release on 17th November. With the return of the divisive indie rock icon, it appears to be a great time to reminisce about The Smiths’ frontman’s greatest musical triumph, The Queen is Dead.

Trawling through Google I found it quite unbelievable that The Smiths’ third studio album failed to top the charts, peaking only at number 2 upon its first release in 1986. That being said, this has not prevented The Queen is Dead from being the band’s most accomplished piece of work, and arguably one of the best albums in music history. Its all-round production, musicianship and lyricism fired The Smiths, and Morrissey, from indie-rock obscurity to the realms of legendary status.

The unashamedly bleak and despondent poetic style of Morrissey’s lyricism combined with the deftness of Johnny Marr’s genius on guitar makes The Queen is Dead irresistible to the listener of any generation. From the first sound of the drum in the title track, to the uplifting ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ it’s obvious that this is an album where Morrissey wears his heart on his sleeve, and his tongue is as sharp ever.

In addition to this, The Queen is Dead is filled with classic hits such as ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ and ‘The Boy with the Thorn in his Side’, intermingled with witty interludes like ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’ and ‘Cemetery Gates’. Morrissey showcases his brilliant range to full effect, from comedic puns and sexual politics to dark and tragic love stories.  The album is not only perfect for wallowing in self-pity but is also a celebration of human emotion as an art form.

Not only is the album itself a masterpiece, but it also contains the best song ever penned. ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’ is quite simply perfection, and I will fight to the death to defend this opinion. The poignancy of the lyricism, the woeful exuberance is something that only The Smiths can achieve. Though largely unrecognised, The Smiths offer a subtle positivity in their music, with ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’ speaking entirely for itself, a shimmering beacon of hope amongst the gloom. The merging of the happy and sad makes you just want to lock yourself in your room and have a little boogie in spite of all that is wrong. This juxtaposition is something that ultimately draws you time and time again to this magnificent album, reaching out for that nostalgic sense of being an adolescent, dealing with the hard times and the good. I think in essence that what makes this album so great is its ability to make me feel liberated; it relieves the stress of everyday life, be it exams or money problems, by directly addressing the issues head-on; to help you understand that sometimes it’s good to just be annoyed, and mope around a bit.

The Queen is Dead above all else epitomises Morrissey in all his melancholy glory and screams out that this was a band in their prime; it would see them, as Morrissey wishes for in ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’, “go down in musical history”.

This then lends hope to Morrissey’s new album set to be released on the 17th November. Of course it would come as a huge surprise if he could achieve another album even close to the quality of The Queen is Dead, but one thing is for certain, this new album will surely be as morose and politically charged as anyone would expect if the title Low in High School is anything to go by.

Morrissey is set to release Low in High School on  November 17th


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