16 Songs, 52 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

After hearing Elliott Smith's plaintive, stripped-down indie albums for years, Figure 8 came as somewhat of a shock to the singer-songwriter's legion of fans. Here was Smith, on a major label, still writing heartbreaking songs but cleanly produced and aided by a band that sounded steeped in the retro sounds of the Beatles and Zombies. A handful of tracks ("Somebody That I Used to Know," "Everything Reminds Me of Her," "Stupidity Tries") still sound like vintage Smith, while a few tracks seem to hint at a new chapter to his sonic world ("Wouldn't Mama Be Proud," "Can't Make a Sound"). Despite its diverse pop sounds, the songs are still as stunning and memorable as anything the late musician produced.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After hearing Elliott Smith's plaintive, stripped-down indie albums for years, Figure 8 came as somewhat of a shock to the singer-songwriter's legion of fans. Here was Smith, on a major label, still writing heartbreaking songs but cleanly produced and aided by a band that sounded steeped in the retro sounds of the Beatles and Zombies. A handful of tracks ("Somebody That I Used to Know," "Everything Reminds Me of Her," "Stupidity Tries") still sound like vintage Smith, while a few tracks seem to hint at a new chapter to his sonic world ("Wouldn't Mama Be Proud," "Can't Make a Sound"). Despite its diverse pop sounds, the songs are still as stunning and memorable as anything the late musician produced.

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2:09
3:49
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2:24
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4:32
4:23
2:44
3:25
2:19
15 5:04
2:36
3:35
4:18
1:53

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5

145 Ratings

145 Ratings

Smith Scores Again

largepenis,

This album is as good as any other albums he has produced. Some of the songs have a new sound, though. If you listen to the lyrics, they are really depressing. These lyrics are the only thing keeping Smith from having five stars.

Figure 8? The Eternal Return? Yes.

khephret,

This album is definitely a coda for Mr. Smith. Some may say the Beatles were whispering in his ear as he penned these songs, but I'd say it were angels. If you think the lyrics are depressing, you might be missing something. If you flinch at honest depictions of life, then please look somewhere else. This man had an amazing ear for harmony, a beautiful voice, and a great sense of rhythm. Many of the songs are autobiographical, and having grown up myself in the same city he did (Portland, Oregon) and seen him rise from his roots to become known nationwide I feel I must say that I have seen the bleakness he saw and watched many of the same sad people he describes. His gift was to lead you to the bottom of the valley so that you could begin the climb up the next mountain. A brilliant songsmith and writer. I highly recommend this album, and indeed all of his work. If you have heard Crackerbash, his first band, I also recommend them. Brilliant.

An excellent first one to try

GCJ,

It was tough listening to Elliott Smith for a few months after he died but the the sheer mastery of this guy brought me back. This album is not typical Smith but songs such as Can't Make A Sound, Color Bars and Son Of Sam show the genius behind the painfully troubled soul. An absolute masterpeice.

About Elliott Smith

The celebrated folk-punk singer/songwriter Elliott Smith rose from indie obscurity to mainstream success in 1997 on the strength of "Miss Misery," his Academy Award-nominated song from the film Good Will Hunting. A native of Portland, Oregon, Smith began writing and recording his first songs at age 14, later becoming a fixture of the city's thriving music scene. As a member of the band Heatmiser, he debuted in 1993 with the LP Dead Air, issuing his first solo effort, Roman Candle, on the tiny Cavity Search label a year later. For his 1995 self-titled album, Smith signed with the noted Kill Rock Stars label. Either/Or followed in 1997, around the same time that filmmaker and longtime fan Gus Van Sant requested permission to use the singer's music in his upcoming Good Will Hunting.

Smith also composed a handful of new songs for the soundtrack, among them "Miss Misery," and when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its Oscar nominations the following February, the track was a surprise entry in the Best Original Song category. Although he did not win, Smith performed the song live at the televised Oscar broadcast, appearing on-stage alongside superstars Trisha Yearwood and Celine Dion in a notably surreal musical moment. Smith's DreamWorks label debut, XO, followed later in 1998. Two years later he delivered Figure 8, which delved further into lush arrangements and orchestrations. For the next two years, Smith labored over what was to be his next album, From a Basement on a Hill. He would not live to see the album's completion, however.

To the shock of friends and fans alike, Smith's body was found on October 21, 2003, with two stab wounds in his chest. To date, the coroner has been unable to determine whether he committed suicide or was murdered, and the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation remains open. From a Basement on a Hill was released one year later, just two days shy of the first anniversary of his death, and received warm critical nods. In 2007, the Kill Rock Stars label issued a two-disc set of Smith's unreleased work, all of which had been recorded between 1994 and 1997. Entitled New Moon, the 24-track collection contained three songs that had been previously released on hard to find compilations or soundtracks, including an early version of "Miss Misery" and a cover of Big Star's "Thirteen." A career compilation titled An Introduction to Elliott Smith showed up in 2010, and in 2015, Smith was the subject of a documentary called Heaven Adores You; the soundtrack to the film showed up in 2016. ~ Jason Ankeny

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