A compilation of singles, B-sides, album tracks, and BBC sessions assembled for the American market, Louder Than Bombs is an overlong and unfocused collection that nevertheless boasts a wealth of brilliant material. Since Hatful of Hollow was unavailable in the U.S. at the time of the release of Louder Than Bombs, this compilation contains large chunks of that album, as well as several cuts from The Smiths, which makes the record a little redundant for most Smiths fans. Also, Louder Than Bombs contains some of the worst material the group ever recorded, including the bland instrumental "Oscillate Wildly" and a cover of Twinkle's "Golden Light." Excluding all of this material, the remainder of the record is brilliant. The singles "Shakespeare's Sister," "Panic," "Ask," "Shoplifters of the World Unite," and "Sheila Take a Bow" are all definitive, as are the elegiac "Unloveable," "Asleep," "Stretch Out and Wait," and "Half a Person," which are all unavailable anywhere else (excluding the British counterpart to Louder Than Bombs, The World Won't Listen). Furthermore, the sneering, bouncing pop of "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" and the bizarre travelogue of "Is It Really So Strange?" are two other essential songs not available anywhere else. Though The World Won't Listen is a more concise collection, Louder Than Bombs is a necessary purchase for any Smiths fan.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine