Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith


5.0
classic

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2011 | 658 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: oh we're so, very precious you and I

Talking about myself is difficult. Especially when meeting new people. First days of class and icebreaker games are the bane of my school year. Tongues twist and premeditated answers disappear, inevitably. I get the sense that Elliott feels the same way, if not exponentially more so. Odd, considering his expertise as an artist is centered around divulging the most personal inners of his existence. It’s fitting that his second record is his self-titled... it is the absolute peak of his self-exhibitionism, after all. Still, the incessant, morose mood of Elliott Smith indicates that Elliott does not enjoy this tell-all technique; he’s uncomfortable, wary, as if every syllable he parts with is another drop of blood bleeding from his already-weak frame. You know why he’s enervated, though. Devastating imagery of drugs, lost love, and the type of foreboding cynicism that accompanies a man diving to his demise are ingrained into every spidery, shivering line Elliott delivers. Despite relatively simple techniques, his self-titled record is a nosedive into his dark abyss, the single most evocative piece of music I’ve ever encountered. The harmless mellifluousness and Beach Boys-esque tunes belie the true seriousness of the record, which proves itself to be a slinking, isolatory and almost disturbingly personal encounter with the deceased artist.

Don’t be mistaken by his soft demeanor. Elliott Smith is mellow yet lyrically heartbreaking. The beauty in the harmonies of “Single File” and “Coming Up Roses” are offset by the heroin-infused scrawls of his writing. Raw and visceral, the streaky guitar sliding of “Clementine,” for instance, matches his cold demeanor as he turns a carefree ditty into a lovelorn number. And the distinct mix of candidness and sorrow that runs through his soft whispers are what separate Elliott (alongside his more tuneful harmonies) from obvious influences Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley. This much is true, and the record is often cited as the epitome of melancholy, but more than a few times I sense something else-- an overbearing sense of anger. It’s accentuated by the profanity, not a usual device in the singer-songwriter’s arsenal. The emphasis that Elliott adds by wielding four-letter words in many of Elliott Smith’s tracks results in the most intense moments, though, see: “St. Ide’s Heaven” (Because everyone is a fucking pro), “Christian Brothers” (No bad dream fucker’s gonna boss me around), and “Single File” (Here in line where stupid shit collides). Be it in the profanity or Elliott’s strains with love and drugs, there’s a tragic hopelessness to Elliott’s words amidst the hollowed-out guitar chords, like he’s one the verge of his end with no rescue in sight.

Again, it’s hard for me to believe this is a record Elliott enjoyed writing, much less releasing to the public for their scornful ears to criticize it. He did though, I think he had to. His self-titled record, besides existing as the most skillful display of songwriting unleashed during the decade, is an evocative diary of Elliott’s pain and anguish, a tiny glimpse of light into his dark cavern of suffering that was his life while addicted to heroin and despising life. The pain that flows like blood from Elliott’s second album is just the side-effect of the demons he seems to be so desperately trying to exorcise throughout the piece. As personal and self-centered his self-titled record is, there’s no doubt in my mind that Elliott is the blurry figure on the cover. He’s leaped off the building, and Elliott Smith is the tragic, personal narrative that Elliott tells on the way down.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
March 2nd 2011


20834 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I promised myself I'd do this a while ago when I saw the default was a track-by-track haha, but never worked up the courage to actually do so 'til months later, tonight.

I really I hope I do this half just half the justice it deserves... it's really hard for me to put into words how strongly I feel about this album and I actually sorta hope the review reflects that, rather than seeming it sounds like I have it all figured out, if that makes sense.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


15070 Comments


haha neg off the bat

will read

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


15070 Comments


"No bad dream fucker’s gonna boss me around"

needs a


also, to have uncensored swears (e.g. "shit"), put size=2 [/size] tags in between one of the letters

SeaAnemone
March 2nd 2011


20834 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah thanks, you must have read before I just editted, ugh I hate coding

acorncheese
March 2nd 2011


7119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not quite my favorite of his, but still one of my all time favorites. Great review.

Ire
March 2nd 2011


41822 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

y negz?


sea is cool


doesn't deserve negs.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 2nd 2011


10623 Comments


Nice write up. I've only had a passing interest in Smith, but perhaps you've inspired me to try harder.

Ire
March 2nd 2011


41822 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gay users = negs

cool users = no negs

crazyblinddude
March 2nd 2011


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review Eric. I think I remember you saying you weren't going to write one for this album. But that was a long time ago anyways, if I recall. Doesn't really matter though. Pos.

SeaAnemone
March 2nd 2011


20834 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks Ire

I hate neggers

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 2nd 2011


10623 Comments


negs don't really mean shit

BloodSweatandBeers
March 2nd 2011


1014 Comments


I have yet to check out more of his stuff, listened to Either/Or, it was pretty good.

musicConsumer
March 2nd 2011


494 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I snigger at neggers

couldwinarabbit
March 2nd 2011


6996 Comments


It was me. Review is how I would have written it, only with better writting. St Ides Heaven is one of my favourite/ least favourite songs ever.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

so i was watching harry potter the other day and my girlfriend was like 'severus snape has always reminded me of elliott smith.' and she's totally right! i was shocked i hadn't made this connection previously

Digging: Jessie Ware - Tough Love

SeaAnemone
March 2nd 2011


20834 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

well there goes rudy... making me want to rewrite my review by popping up with a totally awesome, better observation about elliott smith

acorncheese
March 2nd 2011


7119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If there was ever going to be a movie about Elliott, Heath Ledger would have to play him.




Oh wait.


But seriously.

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


10545 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

like compare a picture of severus snape with elliott smith and it's almost uncanny.

also good review

BallsToTheWall
March 2nd 2011


44805 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is an album worth owning, then again every time I get a decent case of CD's going I lose it.

Digging: Pink Turns Blue - If Two Worlds Kiss

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2011


28789 Comments


can't believe you hadn't reviewed this a long time ago



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