4. Strangeways Here We Come
For a band often labelled miserbalists, most of The Smiths’ most beloved music is at least melodically upbeat even if Morrissey’s lyrics tend towards the pessimistic. The exception to this is their final release: appropriately enough, since it’s named after a prison, the sound here is far more claustrophobic and despairing even as the instrumentation gets more adventurous.
Opener "A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours" is one of Morrissey’s lyrically most interesting tracks, and the jaunty, offbeat track brims with energy. Things get more depressing on "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish", which brims with self loathing, and centrepiece "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" has an intro which is overwhelmingly gloomy, quite unlike anything else in their canon.
It’s perhaps their most musically challenging record, and while you can’t quite hear the band breaking apart (they’d split before its release), the playing certainly sounds less lively than before, less energy of a band in their pomp playing altogether.
Its most lauded track, “Girlfriend In A Coma”, is memorable but perhaps a little too twee for this set of tracks - a fittingly melodramatic ending to a great band.