Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
“No it’s not like any other love / this one is different because it’s ours,” Morrissey sings on “Hand in Glove.” Right there, he established that The Smiths were like no other pop band yammering out the same sappy love songs. No, Manchester’s Finest were going to get into the nitty-gritty niche emotions, doomed and homoerotic and bitter and pure all in the same album. And they weren’t afraid to get snarky either. “A smile lights up her stupid face / and well it would,” Morrissey sneers on “Pretty Girls Make Graves.” And has there ever been as bitchy a breakup song as “What Difference Does It Make?” Maybe only “You’ve Got Everything Now.”
But there is tenderness here too. “This Charming Man” and “Hand in Glove,” sure, but also the lullaby “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.” The Smiths showed a range of the heart that far surpassed their peers, and only got better from here. Several of the singles appeared in alternate versions on other albums, but in the original, The Smiths showed that they were here to change music forever.