FIgure 8 review by Elliott Smith

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  • Released: Apr 18, 2000
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 9.3 (26 votes)
Elliott Smith: FIgure 8

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.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    An Existence
    so your advise to skip this album is somethink you'd take on board yourself? Them 2/3 of what you like aren't enough to advise anyone to check out? which Beatles album should people not get? EVERYBODY should have this album, along with the other five. Its diverse in range, style and everything else but that doesn't suggest its poor. If anythin i'd say there's too many great songs on this one album that when asked to choice a favourite track you can't do it. Each time you go back to it another song takes over
    Yeah I gotta disagree with this review totally. I'd say it's better than Roman Candle and New Moon. Even though all three are epic albums. Can't make a sound is a completely genius and melodically perfect song. Every song on this album is very good. This is also his most instrumentally skilled album i'd say. Listen to LA and Stupidity Tries guitar work. I thought this album was a bit different than some of this others, but no less awesome. It was a cool album, a little heavier on the electric guitar, and a bit more carefree but still didn't lose his style. And his lyrics were very personal in this album as well.. As for the last sentene regarding new Elliott fans, dont listen to him! lol, Figure 8 is probably one of his more instantly accessable albums for a new listener. Cant make a sound is the song I heard first of his that catapulted my into an extreme fan. Great album.
    Anybody who says this album is anything less than a 9 just needs to listen to Can't Make a Sound. Sheer brilliance.
    Maybe not my best album, but Everything Means Nothing To Me was the first Elliott Smith song I ever heard. Life changing.
    I adored this, I thought it was at least better than Roman Candle, maybe on par with XO
    Even if this is his worst album, it's still better than 99.9% of everything out there. It's still a 10 star album in my book.
    just got this a few weeks ago and I love it. If it's his weakest effort then I need to get his other stuff cause this CD is great.
    i gotta show respect to a)the reviewer for at least giving the people(like me) who adore Figure 8 fair warning that you we're going to hard on it. and b) to harrisonman because it's true that 5 star ratings are reserved for only the best songs. that being said, Figure 8 was Elliott Smith's break from the mostly acoustic driven albums of the past. The last record he made with this much electric guitar was with Heatmiser. Some maybe see it as a rocky transition, but it is undeniable that many of the songs on this record like Pretty Mary K, Happiness and Son of Sam are the best of his career and not to mention this is the album that made me love Elliott Smith as much as I do today. Which is enough to get a tattoo...that deep. Respectable review nonetheless. Travis
    Junk bond trader is one of 17 songs on my itunes with a 5 star rating. My itunes has 10,500 songs. Wheres the love? Such a great song.
    Ok, here's where I get confused... "2/3 of the album is quality material, and the other 2/3 many might argue are there favourites, songs like stupidity tries" So...I ran this problem by a few MIT professors and they came up with this: (2/3) + (2/3) = 4/3 So I guess it's not just an album, it's 4/3 (or for you decimal enthusiasts, it's 1.33333)of an album!! Elliott Smith is truly a God, his ability to bend the rules of mathematics simply amazes me. Haha, I couldn't resist. But yeah, this album just didn't appeal to me as much as his earlier work. He's all around amazing and one of the best songwriters I've ever heard, but I felt that the album had been tampered with too much in the production process. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't like it though. Cheers
    The thing that annoys me about people who make honest reviews like this (Which I disagree with) is that compared to so many other reviews on this site, it makes the album looks bad. Think Paramore, Fall Out Boy and so many other terrible bands have higher reviews than this. Shame really.
    Les Gibson
    i totally agree - it is his weakest effort. But still a bloody good effort: all his albums are of such a high standard
    I love figure 8! How many albums like this come up nowadays, ah? If this is Elliott's weakest moment, it shows how great songwriter he was..
    Sorry I'd have to disagree strongly with the reviewer about 'In the lost and found (Honky Bach)' - the way the song suddenly lifts with those beautiful harmonies was a sign of his unique musical genius. I'd agree it's not his best album perhaps but still amazing.