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Elliott Smith - Figure 8
Label: Dreamworks Records
Release: 2000

Son of Sam
Somebody That I Used To Know
Junk Bond Trader
Everything Reminds Me of Her
Everything Means Nothing To Me
In The Lost And Found
Stupidity Tries
Easy Way Out
Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud
Color Bars
Pretty Mary K
I Better Be Quiet Now
I Can’t Make A Sound

Figure 8 - Elliott Smith
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“It's all about
Taking the easy way out for you
I suppose”

     Elliott Smith died before his time. In his time on earth, Elliott was always an obscure genius amongst the rest of the musical generation. Musical ingenuity and an amazing voice, accompanied with very heartfelt lyrics, marked his recordings. Figure 8 was the last album released prior to Elliott’s supposed suicide in October of 2003. While his death didn’t garner the same amount of attention of say, the deaths of Johnny Cash or that of John Lennon, it was still a very tragic day for the music industry.

     Known to most as “that guy who did some songs on the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack,” Elliott Smith goes leaps and bounds to show that there is no limit to how great his music can become. Songs like “Son of Sam” and “Everything Means Nothing To Me” reek of artistic integrity, becoming soaked in onslaught of crafty musicianship that add a great amount of detail to Elliott’s lyrics. Only an unoriginal and boring chorus stifles the latter song mentioned. This is a main problem that I have noticed in Elliott’s music before. It does not take much away from the music, but this song and others (especially from the Either/Or) album could’ve reached a higher excellence with some small tinkering with the chorus structures.

     “I Can’t Make A Sound” marks a great improvement in Elliott’s already incredible vocal abilities. Also, his guitar playing has grown as well, which is apparent mostly in his mainly acoustic songs such as “Somebody That I Used To Know” and “Everything Reminds Me of Her.” As you may have noticed already from the song-titles, this is not a generally happy recording, making it the perfect album to listen to when you are feeling down (the same can be said about the bulk of Elliott’s recordings, by the way, he was by no means a happy man). Although on “Happiness” he sings, “you’ll see, that happiness is all I want, for you and me.” It’s this desperation for a happy and stable life that provides the biggest emotional leap on the album and makes it hard to listen at times.

     In the end, there are no tracks on Figure 8 which stand out as being bad, or under average, only those that don’t live up to others. However, seeing how good most of Elliott’s songs are, this is not a problem at all.

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