13 Amazing Bands Similar To The Smiths

Written by Dan Farrant

Known for their indie post-punk rock music, The Smiths is undeniably an icon back in the 1980s. Although they have long disbanded, their legacy lives on with more recent bands who took inspiration from The Smiths’ music.

From Joy Division to The Strokes, these groups connect to The Smiths through their British roots or similar music styles. But we won’t stop there! We’ll also provide diverse recommendations, so sit back and let us take you on a journey of musical discovery with our list of 13 bands like the Smiths!

1. Joy Division

Founded in Manchester, UK, Joy Division shares a lot of similarities with The Smiths: from their place of origin to their post-punk, new wave, indie rock vibes.

Their influence on The Smiths and other indie rock bands is undeniable, making them a must-listen for anyone who enjoys melancholic lyrics exploring themes of love, loss, depression, and isolation.

Their music is characterized by menacing guitar riffs, powerful drumming, and the baritone vocals of Ian Curtis. Their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, features popular tracks like “Disorder” and “She’s Lost Control,” showcasing Curtis’ haunting vocal style and emotionally raw lyrics.

2. Cocteau Twins

Scottish band Cocteau Twins was known for their ethereal and gothic rock music, which often featured the incomprehensible vocals of lead singer Elizabeth Fraser. The band’s music is often compared to The Smiths’ due to their unique and distinct style that combined the dream pop and post-punk genres.

According to sources, the early works of the Cocteau Twins were influenced by Joy Division, among many other inspirations, whose music style is also similar to The Smiths.

Cocteau Twins’ intricate guitar riffs, complex drum patterns, and ambient vocals created hit songs like “Heaven or Las Vegas,” “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops,” and “Iceblink Luck.”

3. Arcade Fire

Canadian band Arcade Fire is known for its anthemic indie rock music and electrifying live performances. With hits like “Wake Up” and “Reflektor,” they have won multiple awards, including a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2011 for The Suburbs and multiple Juno Awards.

Arcade Fire has a similar indie rock and laidback music style to The Smiths. They were also praised for their multi-layered guitar work reminiscent of The Smiths’ Johnny Marr. Their willingness to experiment with different musical styles and themes while maintaining their signature sound has won them a dedicated fan base.

4. Suede

English rock band Suede‘s music is described as a fusion of rock and pop influences. Known for their distinctive guitar sound and introspective lyrics, Suede’s music has often been compared to The Smiths.

In fact, The Smiths’ former drummer Mike Joyce filled in as Suede’s drummer for their unreleased song “Be My God/Art.” However, Joyce didn’t push through with the job, as he felt like being in a band similar to his former band wouldn’t be ideal for both parties.

Over the years, Suede has released several critically acclaimed albums, including Dog Man Star and Coming Up, which have sold millions of copies worldwide. The band’s success in the 90s helped to solidify the Britpop movement and establish them as one of the genre’s most influential bands.

5. The Decemberists

Known for their eclectic music and lyrics that are imbued with storytelling elements, The Decemberists is an indie folk rock band from Portland, Oregon.

Formed in 2000, The Decemberists drew inspiration from the British folk revival for their earlier works. Fans of The Smiths may enjoy The Decemberists’ use of literary references, intricate instrumentals, and their willingness to experiment with different genres and styles. 

Some of their most well-known songs include “O Valencia!” and “Down by the Water.” The band has been nominated for several awards, including a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song.

6. Belle & Sebastian

Indie pop band Belle & Sebastian started out strong when they released their first album Tigermilk in 1996, which peaked at #13 on the UK charts. The band’s poetic lyrics and chamber pop style, accompanied by gentle and melodic instrumentation, have often made them comparable to The Smiths.

Belle & Sebastian didn’t enjoy much commercial success in the US, although they are more well-received in the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland. Among their most popular singles include “Legal Man” and “Jonathan David,” which peaked at #4 and #9 on Canadian charts, respectively.

7. Glasvegas

Although Glasvegas was formed in 2003 in Glasgow, Scotland, it took them a while to debut their music to the general public due to several hiccups.

They were finally able to release their self-titled debut album in 2008 and enjoyed commercial success in the UK. The album features the hit singles “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone,” which won the NME Award for Best Track in 2009.

With emotionally charged lyrics and soaring choruses, the Scottish indie rock band appeals to fans of The Smiths who appreciate a darker, more atmospheric take on indie rock. Glasvegas, however, share some similarities with The Smiths’ signature style of blending melancholy with driving rhythms.

8. The White Stripes

The influential garage rock duo The White Stripes, featuring husband-and-wife Jack and Meg White, made waves in the early 2000s with their stripped-back rock sound.

With hits like “Seven Nation Army” and “Fell in Love with a Girl,” they garnered critical acclaim and commercial success, including several Grammy Awards. Their sound, characterized by Jack’s guitar riffs and Meg’s powerful drumming, has been compared to be reminiscent of The Smiths’ style. 

Fans of The Smiths may also appreciate The White Stripes’ use of raw, minimalist instrumentation that captures the energy of early rock and roll. Their emphasis on songwriting and storytelling also shares similarities with The Smiths’ lyricism.

9. Sonic Youth

One of the most influential experimental rock bands of the 1980s, Sonic Youth‘s experimental rock style is reminiscent of The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr’s unorthodox chord progressions and intricate guitar parts.

Among their most popular songs include “Teen Age Riot,” “Death Valley ’69,” and “Hits of Sunshine (For Allen Ginsberg).” The band became more mainstream during the 90s until the early 2000s, but their popularity was cut short when they disbanded in 2011.

Sonic Youth’s willingness to take risks and break from traditional song structures makes them such an interesting band for fans of The Smiths to explore, who appreciate music that pushes boundaries and defies expectations.

10. Radiohead

British experimental rock band Radiohead has continuously evolved their sound over the years. They drew inspiration from several iconic rock bands, including The Smiths, Joy Division, and Queen.

Their debut album in 1993, Pablo Honey, featured the hit single “Creep,” which falls between the alternative and post-grunge rock genres. Their subsequent albums, Kid A and Amnesiac, saw them fully embrace experimental electronica while still maintaining their rock roots.

Radiohead’s willingness to take risks and experiment with different genres has made them a favorite of fans who appreciate bands similar to The Smiths. 

11. The Cure

English gothic rock band The Cure was and still is among the most popular rock bands since the late 70s. They have been able to maintain an incredibly devoted following over the decades, in large part to their unique blend of gothic rock and post-punk sound.

The Cure’s musical style has often been compared to The Smiths: an interesting yet unique blend of dark, post-punk, new wave music, marked by their distinct guitar riffs and a percussive sound.

Among their hit singles are “Friday I’m in Love,” “Just Like Heaven,” and “Pictures of You.” The Cure was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, further solidifying their legacy as one of the most influential rock bands of all time.

12. The Strokes

New wave rock band The Strokes burst onto the music scene in 2001 with their debut album, Is This It. It featured infectious guitar riffs and raw energy that closely resembles The Smiths’ post-punk, indie rock style.

The Strokes’ musical career started out strong following the year they debuted, winning several awards, including Best New Act, Best International Album, and Best International Band, from separate award shows.

Their most recognizable song, “Last Nite,” peaked at #1 on the UK Indie charts and received several Platinum certifications from multiple countries, including the UK, the US, Portugal, and Australia.

13. MGMT

Psychedelic synth-pop duo MGMT was formed in 2002 and is also known as The Management. Their debut album Oracular Spectacular garnered critical acclaim and featured hit singles such as “Electric Feel” and “Kids,” which helped propel them to mainstream success. 

MGMT may have a different sound and style than The Smiths, but they share a similar innovative spirit and willingness to push boundaries within the indie music scene. 

Like The Smiths, MGMT is unafraid to experiment with different genres and incorporate a range of musical influences into their work. Both bands have a talent for crafting catchy pop melodies while infusing their music with complex, thought-provoking lyrics.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like The Smiths

From the dark post-punk sounds of Joy Division to the indie rock fusion of Arcade Fire and Suede, there’s a wide variety of genres and styles to choose from if you’re exploring bands that share similarities to The Smiths.

Some of the bands in our list may not sound exactly the same as the legendary rock band, but their uniqueness is the reason they stand out while also drawing inspiration from The Smiths. If you have other bands in mind, let us know in the comments!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.