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Figure 8

January 20th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Figure 8

Japanese edition of the indie rock singer/songwriter’s 2000 release with two exclusive bonus tracks ‘Because’ & ‘Figure 8′. 18 tracks in all including the single ‘Son Of Sam’. Digipak. The story of Elliott Smith is well known now: Shy and reclusive indie rocker soars to a Hollywood soundstage and major-label contract. His fans gasped in collective horror when he took a bow at the 1998 Oscars, his hand clasped by Celine Dion. He seemed far too fragile to survive among the sharks and vultures on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. But as his subsequent albums XO and now Figure 8 show, Smith has weathered the spotlight successfully and is moving ahead with self-assured grace. The beauty of Figure 8 is that it encompasses Smith’s musical virtues, from the stark and wispy tunes of his lo-fi beginnings on Roman Candle to the orchestrated, Beatlesesque pomp and circumstance of later work to the intimate and sometimes painful nature of his live shows. Figure 8′s opener, “Son of Sam,” is as good

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  1. Kevin Bourrillion
    January 20th, 2011 at 14:50 | #1
    56 of 59 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Most underrated, December 6, 2003
    By 
    Kevin Bourrillion (Mtn View, CA, USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)

    A lot of fans like to dog this album. I have a theory for why this is.

    It’s not that the album is bad, at all, but that it’s not the Elliott that THEY want Elliott to be. They fell in love with the man behind either/or, or the self-titled, or (gasp) the barely audible Roman Candle. They swoon for the quietness, the starkness, the nakedness, bitterness, intimacy. They think “hi-fi” is a four-letter word, not to mention “production”, and dare I even say it, “pop.”

    They were willing to accept XO as a temporary stray from the purity of their vision for his career. In their forgiving state of mind, the music was able to seep into their brains and they saw its brilliance. Hence, XO = good. And, surely Elliott will get back on track next time.

    Figure 8 comes along and dashes their hopes. Their beloved tortured soulmate actually knows his way around modern expensive studio technology – AND HE LIKES IT!!! Traitor!

    Man, I love E.S. and E/O as much as anyone. Love em. Love em love em love em. But I’m one of those who believe that Elliott broke through into an altogether new plane of genius with XO. And Figure 8 is absolutely a worthy continuation of the path he was on.

    Put it this way – if I’m taking ten to the desert island, XO is in the bag for sure. Figure 8 will be really, really hard to leave out. The others, I’ll miss a hell of a lot.

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  2. Patrick Burnett “penngos”
    January 20th, 2011 at 15:11 | #2
    30 of 32 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Beautiful, Swirling Agony, May 25, 2001
    By 
    Patrick Burnett “penngos” (San Francisco, CA USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)

    “Figure 8″ sounds like what would have happened if Nick Drake had been asked to join The Beatles after Paul died in that horrible car accident. Elliott Smith’s voice falls into the haunted, ethereal category currently helmed by Drake during his post-VW resurgence. And this album carries any number of Sgt. Pepper-like arabesques and musical pirouettes, all of which serve to nearly disguise the raw emotional content.

    This is my introduction to Elliott Smith so I have no background in his earlier, less-lush work, and maybe I’m the better for it. … since I have no basis of comparison, I’m prefectly free to get lost in the spider web of sound spun on “Figure 8″. And, perhaps because I’ve recently had my heart broken, all the lyrics make sense instead of being maudlin or overwrought. I will, of course, reexamine this in a year or so when I feel better, but I have a feeling that this record will stand the test of time.

    Standout tracks are the opener, “Son of Sam”, a deceptively-jaunty song that sounds almost like Klaatu at a high-school carnival. “Everything Reminds me of Her” and “Everything Means Nothing to Me” are fraternal twins, each with a different sound, but inseperable – they should be played hand in hand in perpetuity. “Somebody that I used to Know” is heartbreakingly simple, deceptively upbeat and captures perfectly the sound of a man on the edge of regaining himself. The rest of the album is wonderful, but these are the tracks that pierced me.

    I am grateful to the friend who introduced me to Elliott Smith and I can only hope that, if you buy “Figure 8″ after reading this review, you will be grateful, too.

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