2. The Queen Is Dead (1986)
1986's The Queen Is Dead is a masterful and fully realized record, equal parts crushing ridicule, wit, sentiment, politics, and poetry. Tough, uncompromising, and packed with difficult truths, it is everything you want in a Smiths record. Highlights abound. The searing title track is one of Morrissey and Marr's most ferocious exertions ever, featuring Moz's trademark withering wit: "Her very lowness with her head in a sling/ I'm truly sorry, but it sounds like a wonderful thing." This is bookended with the penultimate "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out," nothing less than a modern standard that negates all of the band's inherent cynicism with one of the most touching pleas of unchallenged love that exists in any band's catalog. In between there are cross-dressing members of the cloth ("Vicar In A Tutu"), thinly veiled industry takedowns ("Frankly, Mr. Shankly"), and a final napalming of yet another bridge by someone who should know better ("Bigmouth Strikes Again"). This record encapsulates the Smiths' gestalt at its most magnificent.