I vividly remembering my older cousins playing this album a lot in the mid-90s during their teenage years. A memory which would eventually go on to become my own teenage action. Yes, I moped around in my bedroom while doing Algebra II homework as Morrissey whined, and Johnny Marr’s guitar jangled out magic. That isn’t to say this music should only exist in your teenage years, but there is a certain kind of synchronicity between Morrissey’s verbose, witty lyrics and adolescent exasperation.
Look, it’s no secret that the Smiths were a band that loved to release compilation albums as stopgaps between studio albums, they had as many compilations as studio albums during their brief heyday in the 80s, but this one stands above the pack for the simplest of reasons. By no means the lone Smiths album you should own, but a perfect primer for the band, Singles tells their story cleanly, succinctly, and is endlessly listenable. The focus here is on the UK 45s, and that somehow seems like the correct point-of-focus. If this gets you interested in where to go next, then there are rarities albums like Hatful of Hollow and Louder Than Bombs, my personal favorite Smiths release.
Singles underscores that the Smiths were a fabulous singles act. One of the best guitar bands to ever come out of England and one that launched a thousand indie disciples, the Smiths are one of the greatest. Here are there biggest, brightest jewels in a catalogue full of them. Nothing major seems to be missing here and a complete picture of the band’s various moods and tones is present. “Hand in Glove” comes right out the gate with Marr’s guitar roiling around Morrissey’s croon as it regales us with a tale of forbidden, probably queer, love. You can hear their progression as a band so that songs like “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again” sound like the logical outcome of their words and sound.
Given the plethora of compilations from this group, if you can’t find this one then The Sound of the Smiths would work just as well. That one replicates this with an additional five album tracks and a two-disc deluxe edition that features an entire disc of rarities. So, there’s options out there, is what I’m trying to say. I still maintain that this is one of the albums that belongs in just about everyone’s collection in some way, shape, or form.
Download: “This Charming Man,” “How Soon Is Now?,” “Ask”