The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come (1987), 6/10

Although Strangeways is an enjoyable record in retrospection, it is still an entirely frontloaded album that sounds more like a collection of singles with an odd, mismatching EP thrown onto its back end. That along with Morrissey’s odd fascination with vocal techniques that are more often failures than successes, not even charmingly so as it was before this release, make it the lesser of their studio albums. There are some great individual songs with unique moods like “Death of a Disco Dancer”, “Girlfriend in a Coma” and “Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before”, but again they are all on the first half of the album and smashed against one another with no fluidity to be heard. The second half feels like a melancholic, dreary version of the first, but with less punchy songwriting, making it too depressing to enjoy apart from the closing track that adds a bit of vitality back into the experience, yet at a time when it is a little too late to breathe any meaningful life back into the narrative. Morrissey’s lyrics are just as hit or miss, and while I can appreciate his breadth of motifs on something more musically successful such as their debut, here it feels disjointed and random. This is all less important, however, than the strength of songwriting of the first five tracks, they alone carry the album to ultimately be quite good or even great depending on where your sentiments lie. You may enjoy his new vocal eccentricities that he for some reason dives into headfirst as further heard on Rank where he also reveals a lack of consideration for their past work; this can be both a strength or a weakness for the band’s sound but surely helped them achieve a grander evolution than they would have otherwise. Whether you like it or not, it has a unique sound even among their limited discography and some very strong singles as The Smiths were always one to provide.