Sound — 7
It is a sad task to have to review an album such as this, while I am sure my criticism will raise contreversy among fans, I have to say this is, in my opinion, his weakest effort. While technical skill and many catchy hooks are apparent on this album from the hit, Son of Sam, to the beautifully constructed Hapiness (the gondola man) the music seems to lack such inspiration on tracks like In the Lost and found, a piano piece with a simple monotonous melody that is, thankfully, not founf in many other of his much finer works. Over all the album is a beatifully produced set of hooks, expanding on the sound of XO. However such production may gain more mainstream respect it loses the comfortable stripped down connection of his first three albums, that even XO, despite it's new level of multiinstrumentation and slick production, was able to maintain. This isn't too say that the songs them selves aren't good, 2/3 of the album is quality material, and the other 2/3 many might argue are there favourites, songs like stupidity tries. My only trouble with the album is that for the first time in his career this album seems to build a barrier between musician and listener. Only songs such as Colour bars, hapiness and Somebody that I used to know seem to destroy this metaphorical wall, not enough however to fit in with the feel of a true smith album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics like the music and production on this album are quite different from anything that he had done before. There is no doubt an apparent decline in quality with songs like Can't Make a sound, however for the most part the change is lateral. While he now uses detailed imagery and an onslaught of metaphors to convey a message, it is quite apparent that he is no longer singing the lyrics of his own life, after all we all know that he's never been a CEO (Wouldn't mama be proud) and since when is he a junk bond trader. Yet again I feel I must back track and say that the lyrics are still poestic, quite clever, and in some cases such as everything reminds me of her, and everything means nothing to me, very moving, and not just a little sarcastic, however with the exception of those two I feel that the human connection between his life and every one
Overall Impression — 8
I would be lying if I could say I wasn't a hypocrite, that for the reasons I have stated I do not like this album, however that is untrue, the catchy hooks and the occasionally tearjerking lyrics do captivate me, for the 2/3 of the album I like. This album, was his poppiest most accessible work that he'd released, which was to be completely reversed with his follow up posthumous release which was dark distorted and intentionally dissonant. I can only say that while this album would be good for anyone just getting into Elliott, that the fans of Smith who are still missing this album, you might want to forgo it for anyother of his that you've yet to get.