The Sound of the Smiths

Overseen by Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, this compilation emphasizes the compositional might behind the miserablism of England's most idiosyncratic and influential Eighties band. Sound traces the quartet's four-year evolution from savage tenderness to refined despair: Morrissey articulates both bleak romanticism and omni-deprecating humor, while Marr accompanies him with chiming, multilayered riffs. The Smiths often relegated their most emotionally detailed and musically divergent tracks to single flips, included here: Their most famous song, "How Soon Is Now?" began as a B side, while non-album cuts like the languid "Stretch Out and Wait" showcase the bittersweet contrast between Morrissey's sympathetic crooning and the droll realism of lines like "Let your puny body lie down." Rarely does an act so flatteringly curate its own brilliance.

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