Sleep, the last song on The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs is as direct and effective a lullaby as any. It never fails to make me sleepy, extraordinarily. Strange that that quality should define a Smiths song, but it illustrates why both U2 and R.E.M. failed to get any sort of meaningful grip on me during the 1980s. The competition, primarily The Smiths, was just too good.
I was reminded of this by listening to The Smiths and Louder Than Bombs this afternoon, both of which illustrate the quantum leap in artistry that this band makes over U2 or R.E.M. Morrissey’s lyrics are extremely powerful, never more so than in Suffer Little Children that I finally twigged was a direct reference to the Moors Murders and a subject that it is impossible to consider those other bands either addressing or realising with the absolute success that marks this early Smiths song. The music is direct, subtle and unerringly intelligent.