This was the third studio album from the Smiths and allowed them to further expand their cult status around the world!
The album opens with the chaotic 6 minute epic title track that was probably the most rocking track in the whole Smiths back catalogue. Frankly Mr Shankly is a catchy upbeat tune that is teamed up with Morressy’s trade mark cynical lyrics. I know it’s over which was recently voted #1 in the BBC 6’s poll for the best Songs that saved my life, is up there as one of the most depressing songs Morressy has ever written with lines as dim as "if you’re so clever why are you on your own tonight" and "mother I can feel the soil falling over my head". Never had no one ever follows in a similar vein. Big mouth strikes again is a major highlight in which Johnny Marr shows off his left field yet infectious guitar. The Boy with a thorn in his side is a charming catchy pop tune that ends with what sounds like an attempt to yodel from Morressy. Vicar in a tutu sounds almost like a country/western sing along. There is a light that never goes out is a beautiful love song in a weird and twisted way with sweet yet morbid lines such as "if a double- decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die". The album closes with a weird twist in some girls are bigger than others.
This album saw the Smiths at their peak. The music on offer ranges from being catchy and poppy to being dreary and depressed almost from one track to the next. While the album lasts for just over 36 there is no lack of quality as every song is a masterpiece!
'The Queen Is Dead' is considered by most to be the seminal Smiths album. After their eponymous debut, the compilation 'Hatful of Hollow', and second proper album 'Meat Is Murder', one might wonder how the masters of indie pop could get much better. This album is a testament to that astounding improvement. This is really a transition album between the jangly, at-times folky pop of the past to the more straight-forward alternative rock sound pursued on the next two albums, so you get a good cross-section of both.
The title track begins with a section of some song called "Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty" before launching into a raging and humorous satire of England's monarchy. "Frankly, Mr. Shankly" is a more concise song about the band's record label, sounding a bit like XTC at times. "I Know It's Over" is an epic ballad of lost love, featuring some of Morrissey's saddest lyrics (which is saying something). "Never Had No One Ever" is really the only weak spot on the album; not a bad track, it's just rather bland in comparison to everything else. "Cemetry Gates" is a folkier song concerning dead poets and plagiarism, something that Morrissey himself has been accused of doing. "Bigmouth Strikes Again" is the album's most furious moment and possibly the most furious in the Smiths' output. It's the album's fastest track, and Morrissey spits out some of his most bitingly sarcastic lyrics of Johnny Marr's brilliantly driving guitar. "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" is simply shimmering due to Johnny Marr's complex guitar arrangements. "Vicar in a Tutu" is a rather bizarre satire on the church, but it works well enough. Highlight among highlights, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is easily the best song on the album as well as arguably being the best and most definitive song by the Smiths. A beautifully simple guitar part, probably Morrissey's most adolescent lyrics, synthesized orchestration, and an excellent rhythm section courtesy of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce just put this song completely over over the top. An absolutely heart-breaking yet hopeful song, it must be heard to be believed. Surprisingly not the album's closing song, though, it is followed by "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others", which at first seems like quite little in comparison but in truth contains one of Johnny Marr's most sublime guitar parts.
The Smiths were easily one of the best alternative groups around in the 1980s; this album alone can attest to that. If you're new to the Smiths, this would be an excellent way to start. Some parts of it can be harder to appreciate at first, but at least half of the album will grab you from the get-go. Overall, 'The Queen Is Dead' is highly recommended to indie/alternative fans and any cynical, loner teenagers.