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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Figure 8

Elliott Smith

2000

Figure 8
Album Summary

Figure 8 is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, and the final studio album released during his lifetime. It was recorded from 1998 to 2000 at numerous studios and released on April 18, 2000, through DreamWorks Records. Preceded by the singles "Happiness" and "Son of Sam", Figure 8 was Smith's second release on a major label.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.32

Votes

11159
Genres
Rock
Indie
Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Wed May 19 2021
5

Elliot is the secret mycelium that links a group of friends from high school-college-hamlin and carries the weight of rarely verbalized pain and melancholy that naturally accompanies our lives but doesn't pair well with PBR and conditioned masculinity. Over the years I've often protested playing Elliot, not because I dislike his music (I love it), but because it's such a vibe shifter. At least for me it is. Sometimes it takes a Herculean level of mental and physical exercise (+substances) to catch a positive current, and Elliot can sweep that away in 3 minutes. Powerful guy. He was there (self titled) in Matt's Lakeway house one night playing beer pong in the garage. Bizarre contrast. He was there (Either/Or) in Nic's mom's apartment in Toulouse taking a nap with 6 other dudes in the afternoon. Perfect fit. He was there (Figure 8) in Nic's Volvo on the mushroom hangover drive back from the Tacoma-GH walk. That's when somethnig really connected. I got home to my new place with Rico (who I didn't really know yet), closed my bedroom door, drew the curtains, and put Can't Make a Sound on repeat for hours. Rico was very concerned, but said nothing. Understanding guy. Favorite Elliot album. Melodies so sweet they almost sweep away the sour. Tricky guy. A+

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

Such beautiful music. A soundtrack to a very sad story. Elliott Smith is one of those artists, like so many on this list, who exist in the periphery: you've heard of them, meant to pull off the highway and go explore them, but you never get around to saying yes to the exit and then meander down an unknown road. This is a terrible album to listen to on a gray day. This is a perfect album to listen to on a grey day.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
5

It’s so classic. Drove to Los Angeles this summer just to take a selfie in front of the mural that made up the album cover.

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Fri Feb 19 2021
5

Perfect score. So sad that this was his last album before he took his own life. You could hear the massive step forward Figure 8 was in his career. Still makes me sad to this day his loss and the loss to the world of music.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

Elliott Smith was a big influence on my favorite artist (Ben Folds), so naturally I hear a lot of similarities between the two of them, but listening to this album I can hear the influence he might have had on even more indie artists that followed him (The Shins, Deathcab, Bon Iver, Fountains of Wayne). I read he was a big fan of the Beatles, which totally comes through in his sound (“Pretty Mary Kay” especially, for me)...at times this album even felt like a darker, more contemporary Simon & Garfunkel (though I didn’t find anything to suggest he emulated them specifically). Overall I really enjoyed listening to this album. Hard to choose a favorite song, but right now I’m really felling “Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud” & “Can’t Make a Sound.”

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Wed May 19 2021
5

This is one of my favorite Elliott Smith albums. It’s like Dylan going electric. The two previous albums were pared down singer songwriter masterpieces. This album he adds more orchestration, pianos, electric instruments and drums making for a dynamic and fun album, but maintaining his melancholy. Son of Sam, Stupidity Tries and Happiness are three of my all time songs. Doesn’t get much better than this, but I’d put From a Basement on a Hill just above it when it comes to the larger sound albums. Not a surprise grade from the Elliott Smith Superman, 5.

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Fri Jul 30 2021
5

Perfect heartbreaking pop melodies.

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Thu Nov 05 2020
5

Been listening to this for 10 years. I actually like it more than XO. Some of the most beautiful and haunting songwriting I've ever heard.

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Fri Jan 15 2021
4

Not as depressing a I was expecting it to be.

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Thu Mar 18 2021
4

Elliott Smith was a favorite among my friends in college. I like it. There are albums by him that hit harder than this one but still good.

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Tue Oct 11 2022
4

This is kind of a weird album, in the sense that I don't really see why it's significant in terms of it's role in music history or the era/movement that it was part of, but I still just enjoy it. There's something about the sound of his voice that I really enjoy. The production is very solid all the way through. There's also something that feels very personal about his writing 4/5

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Tue Oct 11 2022
4

Funny enough, it was the grand and bombastic moments where I feel Elliot truly shined here; the quieter moments were good too, but they didn't hit quite as hard as they did on Either/Or. Great album though.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
1

Rubbish. The guy is clearly a good musician but his whispery, airy fairy voice really grates. Plu,s the misery in ALL the lyrics just makes this a shit listen. You've gotta wonder if he be anywhere near this list if he hadn't topped himself.

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Tue Oct 06 2020
5

Love it. Especially the moody atmosphere, the dampened undertones, and the feeling of playing the album on a late weekday night. Smith’s voices comes out pretty clearly and demands my attention.

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Fri Jun 25 2021
5

great album, son of sam is a top tier opener

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Fri Feb 19 2021
5

My 2nd favourite Elliott Smith record after XO and just slightly ahead of Either/Or. Brilliant.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

Not my favorite Smith album, but still phenomenal

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Fri Jul 30 2021
5

All of the yes. That voice. Not my favourite E.S. album (Either/Or), but still really really good. At the same time, listening to this, I’m realizing there’s something really cold and distant about it, not as intimate as his other stuff, and the fact that it’s the last album released while he was alive while his mental health was deteriorating brings that home, and I think makes it a bit haunting in a way. Favourite track: “Can’t Make a Sound”

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Fri Jan 22 2021
3

1. The palm muted guitar technique here sounds really nice, as well as the short break with the distorted guitar. The instrumentation is cool overall, and the piano feels right in place. Strong first track. 2. Really like the somber tone of the song with the fast pace as well. Sounds downcast without being too downcast, which I like. 3. Awesome start to the song, sounds amazing. The bassline is cool too. The overall rhythm and riffs in the song are really neat. 4. Really nice, relaxed and laid back song. 5. Really weird, but also sinister. Reminds me of Technology is a Dead Bird and Machine by Mars Argo, which have a similar somber feeling. The delayed drums are funky but interesting. 6. Really cool beat, the distorted guitar and rhythm is cool. The chorus is really cool, and the guitar work is amazing. 7. Piano is really cool. Eerie at the end of the song. 8. The guitar work is really cool, and the short bursts of the distorted guitar accenting the track sounds awesome. The bassline is really cool. 9. Really chill acoustic song, I liked it a lot. 10. Amazing momentum in the song, I love the acoustic guitar part in this. The weird synths throughout the song add so much. It inspires me to use more unconventional patches in music. 11. The piano is exceptionally strong in the song, and I like how the guitar accents its part. 12. I like the subtle rhodes in the background, and the muted guitar is so cool. Really impressive track. 13. The harmonized voices are cool, and the really messed up guitar is pretty cool. LOVE the synths. 14. Solid song. 15. Intro is kind of samey, especially when compared to the last track. The bass and lead guitar really spice it up though. 2:35 POPS OFF. 16. Really sinister, but not bad.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
3

The art for this album is everywhere in my life. Not sure why but it is. If there were an Album Art-le game, I’d nail this one off the bat. I love Elliott Smith but this isn’t my favorite of his albums. Some of the songs downright irritate me. It’s very stream of consciousness and when a band/artist goes in that direction, that’s usually when they lose me. (Case in point: Radiohead) One major exception is the Lost and Found—that little piano ditty gets stuck in my head and I LOVE it. So playful. I love the motif of pairing the guitar and piano melody in so many of his songs. And Color Bars is a good one too. Simple. Not trying too hard. I found science in the album. Everything Reminds Me of Her. Everything Means Nothing to Me. Therefore, she means nothing to me. The lyric in LA, “Last night I was about to throw it all away,” just makes me so sad. Cuz one night he did throw it all away. And I don’t judge him for it—depression and drug addiction are a lethal combination. But what a fucking tragic loss.

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Sat Aug 20 2022
3

The author of this list seems to have a real soft spot for records that ended up being an artist’s final record before their tragic death. 40 records in to this exercise and I’ve been given a few already. While often an important document of the waning days of an artist, albums like this are not always the best representation of the artist’s output and often gain mythological status solely for being the last thing they put out before they died. Figure 8 feels like it was included because it was Elliot Smith’s final record before taking his own life and not necessarily because it’s one of the Elliot Smith records you should hear before you die. I think ”XO” from 1998 would be a better inclusion, in that case. Don’t get me wrong, Figure 8 is a good record. The songs are all well crafted, with expansive instrumentation and nicely layered vocal harmonies. Compared to XO, Figure 8 has a bit more of edge compared to its predecessor with more distorted guitar, and a darker, more blunt lyrical theme. XO, ultimately, is a more enjoyable record. Its songwriting is more concise and memorable. Figure 8 kind has a sprawling feel - a lot of ground travelled, but you still end up in the same place: unknown, yet entirely familiar. Fittingly, it reminds me of traveling in the city it was recorded, Los Angeles: There dozens of neighborhoods that make up Los Angeles, all with their own traits, yet very much the same. Figure 8 takes its time in navigating its sprawl, in the same way that traveling Los Angeles by car can be so time consuming. I’m not sure I landed that analogy properly. Going back to my original point, this isn’t the Elliot Smith record I’d recommend to a newcomer, Either/Or and XO make better starting points. I would save Figure 8 for last. Sometimes the last record an artist put out is the last one you should hear.

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Mon Feb 28 2022
2

Elliott Smith snorts coke off his mum's tits. Pass it on. My dear friend Sir Whippy Pippington passed away listening to this record. RIP.

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Tue Feb 02 2021
5

V Good. Emo but not in a way that is annoying.

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Tue Jan 18 2022
5

I am definitely biased with everything related to Elliott Smith. This album, though not my favorite in his discography, is fantastic. The production sounds different than the Either Or's -more distortion, faster songs- but it still feels personal, vivid, a piece of his self from him to us. I love it. It grows in me with every listen.

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Wed Oct 19 2022
5

I had never listened to Elliott Smith but I can say this is really great. The album has a unique sound, feel, and quality... and that is surprising in a genre that has been explored as much as indie/alt. I really love the idea of the figure 8 representing the artistry here. It's an endless loop, a journey towards perfection without ever reaching it or knowing when to stop. In the same sense, you end up in the same place you started but your better for having traveled that road. I was between a 4 and 5 but I listened to the album again and it's gotta be a 5. I've already added a few tracks to my playlist and I'll listen to this in it's entirety again.

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Tue Nov 29 2022
5

abi uc aydir bu album benim her seyim. everything reminds me of her ve everything means nothing to me BU IKI SARKI UC AYDIR DINLEDIGIM EN GERCEJ SARKILAR of aglicam cok seviyorum

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Wed Dec 07 2022
5

Absolute delightful album and one of my favourite all time artists. I often think about the music of Elliot’s that we never got to hear . Incredible musician and writer ❤️

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Thu Dec 08 2022
5

I have a friend who's very into Smith and I can see why now. The singer songwriter vibes of the album make it very relatable and cozy. The piano and vocals in Everything Means Nothing to Me are beautiful. Fave track(s): Son of Sam, L.A., Stupidity Tries, Can't Make A Sound

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Wed Dec 14 2022
5

I didn't know about Elliott Smith until after his death. But have since become a huge fan. I know this record back to front. When it came up, I tore through it like I always do. Elliott is so out of step with everything but his music is somehow just familiar.

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Sun Jan 24 2021
2

Sounds like the Olivia tremor control guy without interesting music behind him.

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Mon Oct 18 2021
2

It was ok. Background music really. Perfectly ok, but nothing that stands out.

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Fri May 13 2022
2

Elliott is a creepy name. It's a name for guys who don't cut their toenails, or those self-proclaimed "nerds" who watch lots of anime but aren't literate enough to read fantasy novels. But I promise to give this a chance, even though my spidey sense tells me this is gonna be "influenced by Bob Dylan". Ok, it is. And it's Beatles-y as well, just to make me squirm even more. An hour of this whiny garbage almost made me want to kill myself - funnily enough, that's just what Elliott did! ha ha! 2/5.

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Mon Mar 13 2023
2

Very poor, extremely wussy effort. He puts as much effort into songwriting as I do into these reviews. Part-way through there are a couple of maybe "diss tracks" that are so weak they make you want to kick sand in his face yourself. Get it together dude, you're shit but who cares?

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Tue May 11 2021
1

Sounds like British 2000s rock. Just bland and boring and hard to listen to. Totally forgettable. 1/10.

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Sun Apr 18 2021
1

I don't find Elliott Smith lyrically interesting for reasons I won't get into here. That leaves his music. Since Smith went into a self-confessional folkie direction, his lyrics are mostly what he's about, so that's two strikes against him. Fortunately, on Figure 8, Smith opens up his sound somewhat past his quivering voice and spindly guitar picking, which definitely helps matters. But still, Smith's tunes sound like they all came from the same factory. It's been said that his music is Beatlesque, but that's an insult to the Beatles. Their music sounds joyous and effortless, but you can hear Elliott Smith painfully grinding away on tune after tune, and at almost an hour, that's way too much of a bad thing.

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Sat Mar 12 2022
1

Probably the most generic thing I've heard in my life. My Chemical Romance but what if it was written by Michael from The Office

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Thu Jun 09 2022
1

OH god as I said Elliott Smith is a massive soggy wet wipe and I can't stand it. I think its the singing style. Just find it whiney and annoying, mostly his singing style. The songs lyrics make me cringe. Soz nope.

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Tue Dec 13 2022
1

Feels like an annoying guy at a party who breaks out a guitar when no one wants to listen. 1.4

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Thu Aug 17 2023
1

Did not care for this album. Junk Bond Trader was the only song that caught my attention. The band is talented but the music is not my style.

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Tue Jun 29 2021
5

Je suis sur le cul. Tellement bon et je ne connaissais pas . Wow je recoute l’album et la discography. 5

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Tue Jan 19 2021
5

Este lo conocí en la carrera, solía trabajar con el en esas noches interminables de Maya o After Effects, me gusta mucho

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Tue Mar 30 2021
5

only listened to the first 2 songs but it sounded good

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Tue May 18 2021
5

Vabbè, so pronto. Grazie al signore non è From The Basement On The Hill che fortunatamente non c'è nella lista, ho controllato. In conclusione: Non faccio pezzo per pezzo perché li conosco troppo bene e non avrebbe molto senso. Questo album non lo ascoltavo da un po', non è il mio album preferito di Elliott Smith (che rimane FTBOTH), ma cazzo se è un bell'album. Il suo modo disperato, vulnerabile ma giocoso di comporre è una cosa che secondo me ha fatto storia e ha lasciato il segno in un sacco di cantautori successivi. L'onesta dei pezzi è indiscussa e come dice lui stesso in Memory Lane "If it's your decision to be open about yourself, be careful or else...". Non so se li accomuno per la fine tragica precoce o per la predisposizione acustica ma Elliott Smith per me è un po' il Nick Drake dei sui tempi, ha avuto un impatto altrettanto forte sulla musica (che nel caso di Nick Drake è stato postumo). Nonostante questo album sia decisamente (e fortunatamente) meno dark di FTBOTH comunque certi pezzi mi hanno dato comunque una bella botta, tipo Everything Means Nothing To Me che mi arriva sempre come una coltellata (no pun intended). Vabbè bando alle ciance: per me, nonostante il glamour che lo circonda per la sua vita disastrata e che lo fa piacere agli hipsteroni un po' morbosi, Elliott Smith rimane un patrimonio dell'umanità. Se a lui non dò 5 non c'è speranza per nessuno.

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Thu Jun 03 2021
5

Thought this was just great. Even paced and interesting.

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

Very good. Listened twice and added to favourites

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Tue Jul 13 2021
5

A brilliant album. Loved it for many years. A stunning songwriter.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
5

Absolutely one of my favorite albums of all-time.

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Tue Sep 28 2021
5

Solid the whole way through. I can’t believe I haven’t listened to this in so many years

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Perfection - one of my favourite albums ever

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Thu Oct 14 2021
5

How have I not heard his before! This is why I do this list..

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Wed Dec 29 2021
5

Elliott Smith with a backing band has a very Beatles-esque sound. The song writing is great, the musicianship and instrumentation is great, and the production is perfect. Instant classic

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Tue Jan 04 2022
5

Rating this before the album has even finished... This is a 5/5 Great album, loving it.

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Fri Feb 18 2022
5

Liked this album a lot. Elliot has a greet voice and the music flowed well

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Thu Mar 10 2022
5

I cannot believe I never listened to this album before.

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

guitar-y pretty vocals easy alternative sad boy but not too sad, crowd pleaser in the lab

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Mon Mar 21 2022
5

One of the best albums I've heard in a little while, as I go on with this challenge. It was so damn good. Everything about it was so good. My favourite song has to be L.A

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Tue Mar 22 2022
5

Parfait (ou presque) Prefs: Son of Sam, Somebody That I Used To Know, Junk Bond Trailer, Everything Means Nothing To Me, L.A., In the Lost and Found (Honky Bach)/The Roost, Stupidity Tries, Easy Way Out, Color Bars, Happiness/The Gondola Man, I Better Be Quiet Now, Can't Make a Sound Moins pref: Everything Reminds Me of Her

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Wed May 04 2022
5

Everything means nothing to me

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Wed Jun 29 2022
5

An excellent record of a troubled life.

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Sat Jul 09 2022
5

All the cute emojis girls in high school loved Elliott Smith and so I did too.

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Wed Jul 13 2022
5

There's something touching about the way each song is so carefully composed. Unlike with most 'singer-songwriter' songs in which the accompaniment (be it by a full band, guitar or a piano) tends to provide only the bare-minimum harmonic structure statically, in Elliott Smith's songs the accompaniment is melodic (rather than simply being chordal) and mobile, providing counter-melodies to the vocal melody. It owes a lot to his guitar playing style which mixes picking and strumming and thus emphasizes the bass line melody (e.g. Somebody That I Used To Know, Easy Way Out, Better Be Quiet Now). But you can hear the same fondness for countermelodies in other parts of the songs too: the very brief backing vocal part during the first chorus of Can't Make A Sound, for instance, or the strings (or the synth or Mellotron?) that play during the chorus in the latter half of Everything Means Nothing To Me. He's like The Beatles, not just because of his knack for beautiful and memorable melody or sophisticated harmony, which this album displays in abundance, but because of his willingness / desire to infuse each song with as many musical ideas as possible. One small caveat is the drums sound a bit too perfunctory and by the numbers compared to other elements of the songs, but it doesn't really matter when the composition is this good throughout.

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Thu Jul 21 2022
5

just seeing the album cover has the opening bars looping in my head. i was decades late to elliott smith, but his few albums get regular play. i first heard elliott smith the same day i heard mars volta, and it wasn't till a bit later i was able to find these artists again

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Wed Jul 27 2022
5

Somebody that i used to know é boa. Everything Reminds Me of Her também. Everything Means Nothing to Me tem uma repetição. Riff do começo de In The Lost And Found é ótimo

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

I am left a bit speechless. This is an excellent offering from Elliott Smith. Yet another album where a renaissance man composes and played almost all the instruments plus vocals. The one thing I know I like are his doubled up vocal tracks. Having his own voice more than once provides a comforting quality to the album. There isn’t a bad song on here. Truly a revelation.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

Great album. Either/Or is his best, then maybe XO but they're all fives to me.

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

The first notes are so melancholy and moving. A worthy start for one of the most talented American performers, taken from us way too soon and so tragically (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/mar/19/popandrock.elliottsmith). I'm trying to remember which ex-girlfriend it was that introduced me to Elliott Smith. Might have been Sasha or maybe Erica. Probably it was Jen. But it was a long time ago, and the love affair with this music went on far longer than the relationship with her ever did (somebody that I used to know). Individually through the magic of Napster, I have quite a few of the individual tracks if Figure 8 in my collection, but there are unheard tracks here. Junk Bond. This is new to me and it swings. Guitars like church gongs in the first stanza. Easy Way Out = 💔. Damn. It's very hard not to like an Elliot Smith album. I've never heard anyone say oh I hate Elliot Smith. I think that's because you have to love music to even get introduced to Elliot Smith. And since anyone who really loves music loves Elliot Smith, no one really dislikes his music. A very quiet massive figure and this album is beautiful. Top notch. Bye.

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Mon Aug 08 2022
5

A memorable album, beautifully constructed, charmingly delivered and haunted of course by its author’s tragic passing. An ironically more upbeat record than we’re used to from Elliott Smith and with a variety in tone and style. A pretty classic album.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
5

Beautiful Arrangements and Meaningful Lyrics, 5/5 Highlight- "Everything Means Nothing To Me"

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Fri Aug 26 2022
5

Malinconia. Testi cupi ma che con un sottofondo di speranza. Profondi. Belle chitarre, begli incastri con gli altri strumenti. Molto orchestrale, tutto fila. Molto Beatles.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
5

Perfect album. I still miss Elliott Smith

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Sat Sep 17 2022
5

Beautiful melodies and emotional and touching lyrics. The whole album felt like it was getting sadder and sadder with each track.

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Thu Sep 29 2022
5

cool kinda sad though very nice

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Thu Oct 06 2022
5

i'll probably never get tired of this record

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Fri Oct 07 2022
5

Elliott Smith is the best! I'm and XO fan but this is also great.

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Tue Oct 11 2022
5

The overall appeal here is that this piece comes across as bittersweet and delightfully gentle in places. Very good late night music.

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Thu Oct 20 2022
5

Perfect album. Great production after many plain ES albums. If you really wanna hate yourself just listen to this.

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