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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Elliott's best album,
By A Customer
This is the first album I heard by Elliott Smith, and it left me so hungry to hear more of his work that I just had to buy all his albums.
Either/Or is perhaps his best work, it is an absolute dream for fans of lo-fi, stripped down, intimate, acoustic guitar mastery. The album lacks the polish of his later works XO and Figure 8 but in my opinion it has ten times the magic.
After all, what is a bit of tape hiss between friends? Yes, this album has that but to be honest, if Elliott re-recorded it in an all singing, all dancing 24-track studio, he couldn't better what he has made here.
It has a gentle, folky, campfire intimacy that makes you feel as though you know Elliott, you are chilling with him as he captivates you with his incredible guitar picking and his extraordinary voice.
Comparisons with Nick Drake are inevitable but perhaps a little misleading. The only real similarity is that, like Nick, Elliott is a poet who knows just how beautiful the simplicity of vocals and acoustic guitar can be. But I think Elliott sounds more like a Beatle. If he had been in the group his voice would have perfectly complemented John and Paul.
This is an album where every track has something beautiful about it - Between the Bars is a gorgeous ballad, while Speed Trials contains an infectious, haunting melody you will never get out of your head. Rose Parade is another amazing acoustic song with some humorous, wry lyrics - only Elliott could get away with mentioning the Duracell Bunny without looking silly.
Behind the bitterness and hurt of many of the lyrics on the album lurks an angry punk, not a wistful folkie, which in my opinion makes it all the more special. It amazes me that he does not have the public recognition that Radiohead enjoy - he clearly deserves it. A modern day genius. Sometimes five stars just don't seem enough.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful,
The impossibly exquisite tenderness with which Elliot sings songs such as " Say Yes, " " Angeles," and " Rose Parade, " have endeared him to millions of people. His songs have a melodic simplicity, purity and honesty that recall the folk-pop classics of the 60's and 70's such as George Harrisons " All Things Must Pass," Led Zeppelins " Thats The Way," and Paul Simons " April Come She Will. " If you liked those tracks then Elliot is the man for you. RIP.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In my top 5 albums of all time,
By A Customer
This is a great album. Excellent song writing, and wonderfully lo-fi sounding. The production makes it sound like Elliot is next door, playing live and it's all coming through the wall a little bit muffled. Very human sounding and very melodic.
Mind you, if you dont have his other first two albums I would buy the box set instead, that contains this and them for similar money. (they're good as well)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable,
By A Customer
I wouldn't personally rate this as highly as his ... (admittedly more commercial) ... album XO, but it's still a magnificent demonstration of the immense talent of this man. 'Ballad of Big Nothing' is one of the best songs he's ever written, understated, heartfelt and moving, and the rest of the album comes extremely close to matching it. If I have one complaint it's that the album does tend to get a bit samey if you're listening to all 35 minutes at once - but that doesn't mean the songs aren't brilliant. You might recognise a lot of this album from the Good Will Hunting soundtrack but buy it on its own merits - it's superb.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man's a genius, what more can I say.,
By A Customer
Subtle songs of love and life from one of the best songwriters of the decade. This, his third album is slightly less low key/low-fi than his first two albums but dosen't suffer the commercial pretention of it's succesor "XO". Smith writes short simple acoustic numbers that he backs with minimalist bass and drums which he plays himself. There are elemnts of Nick Drake in his folky blend. Smith like Drake is an extremely acomplished guitarist and this really shows on tracks such as "angelis" and its complex one guitar intro. This is his best album (much of which turns up on the "Good Will Hunting"soundtrack); Short, endlessly beutiful, soulful, subtle and understated, you will want to cherish this CD and play it till it melts. Everyone with a soul should own this CD.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing album from underrated songwriter,
i remember buying this album xmas 98 just after XO came out domino re-released his first three albums so I didn't know where to start but I had heard 'between the bars' on the UNCUT albums of year compilation, so I went for 'either/or'. The influence is still resonating to this day nobody I feel was writing pure acoustic pop up to that point and lo-fi production gained elliott his rabid cult following. On first listen 'Say Yes' is such brillant song using 60's style songwriting (simon & garfunkel/kinks/beatles) but with a contempory edge and is still in my opinon his finest song, closely followed by '2:45' the intimacy on this track is just so absorbing the conviction in elliott's voice is what stands him out from alot other more mainstream singer-songwriters you just know he means every single word. Probably the best place to start if your a virgin elliott smith listener.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When I want to feel alone I listen to this album,
By A Customer
This album is the only music that makes me feel good to be alone, from the haunting guitar to the sublime vocals, this is a must buy if youve ever enjoyed life, or radiohead
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as Figure 8,
With the success of his recent album , interest in elliott smith's back catalogue has finally arrived at its deserved level.
While this collection of songs is by no means as good as figure 8, simply because its not as long (at only 36 minutes, its shortness is this albums only downfall) it is still nonetheless fully worthy of its five star rating.
All the songs are beautiful, exploring the deeo emotional pain of splitting up. Most of the songs are sublimely moving; Angeles and Between the Bars stand out as espescially romantic; but the occasional song picks up the pace, and cupid's tricks is full of anger and energy.
If you haven't heard figure 8 yet, then i recommend that you get used to smith's style with that record. I fhowever, you liked figure 8, this is definetely worth your money
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His best work...,
Sleepy tunes with understated breathy vocals, literally poetry set to music. Poetry of the blackest kind, this man has had some very painful experiences in his life. I feel this comes accross in this album more than any others. At least six of the tracks on this album are absolutely stand-out, especially Angelas, and 2:45. This album makes for tireless listening. Good if you want to wallow in your misery for a little while.
5.0 out of 5 stars Either this or 'XO'...,
There's no disputing that the late, great Elliott Smith had a knack for catchy, pretty tunes. Unlike the average pop song, though, their beauty goes way more than skin deep. You can't move these days for melancholy guys and their guitars... goodbye, my lover, blah blah. But if you're looking for music to nurse you through breakdowns as well as break-ups, then you've come to the right place.
Yeah, these are mostly love songs but so much more. It's hard to explain, but some music you don't just listen to, you kind of absorb it. His fragile, unassuming voice gently shuffles its way into your subconscious and takes root. `Between the Bars' is so beautiful, you could listen to it a million times and never tire of it. Elliott Smith fans generally come in two camps- you either like this one best or you like `XO'. As for me, I'm most attached to his posthumous album `From a Basement on a Hill' so as an impartial advisor I suggest you buy all three and then `Roman Candle' as well. If you already own any of these, you don't need me to tell you that `Either/Or' is essential listening. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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