by Yonah Paley
Pop quiz: What do you get when you combine Morrissey’s acerbic wit with Johnny Marr’s jangling guitar? Answer: Disappointment, death, depression, yearning, and loss of innocence. Or in other words, The Smiths.
One of the most unusual bands ever, The Smiths is most readily identifiable by lead singer/songwriter Morrissey. He writes with a tongue wittier than that of a seasoned scholar, with the cynicism to match. His thematic qualities are dark yet funny, droll but likable, and matched with a resigned sense of irony. There is a naked, matter of fact quality that makes his songwriting stand out from the rest.
The band’s other front-man, guitarist Johnny Marr, along with bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, provide the rhythm that makes The Smiths so catchy. Their instrumentation acts as a mood buffer for the lyrics, so that the music is actually enjoyable to listen to (rather than anguish inducing). Marr especially, brings an airy quality to his guitar work that perfectly complements Morrissey’s dreary ramblings.
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