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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smith's Masterpiece
Elliott Smith's death this week hit me really hard; I've not experienced the loss of any of my heroes before. I had been checking his official site for months, awaiting news of the follow up to Figure 8, one of my favourite albums of all time (and certainly my favourite of Smith's, just edging out XO and Either/Or). So to be greeted with news of his demise was a massive...
Published on 24 Oct 2003 by P. J. Tomkins

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It okay
Not sure what to make of this cd yet. I'm sure it will grow on me. I was expecting something more acoustic. But hey, you takes your chances.
Published 14 months ago by H. L. Smith


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smith's Masterpiece, 24 Oct 2003
By 
P. J. Tomkins - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
Elliott Smith's death this week hit me really hard; I've not experienced the loss of any of my heroes before. I had been checking his official site for months, awaiting news of the follow up to Figure 8, one of my favourite albums of all time (and certainly my favourite of Smith's, just edging out XO and Either/Or). So to be greeted with news of his demise was a massive shock.
For me, Figure 8 edges out his other full-production piece, XO, by virtue of not having a bad song amongst its 16 (even the quick instrumental that brings the CD to a close is strangely haunting, and aptly titled "Bye"). Either/Or - the last of his *acoustic* records, lacks the interest of Figure 8, although the songs are, as ever, fragile and poignant.
Figure 8 is one of those albums that when you first hear it, you like the sound, but nothing stands out; however, it grows with repeated listens, and where albums that instantly gratify tend to become irritating, works like this sound eternally fresh. The album is replete with sumptuous melodies, but they are not obvious ones. The pace is mostly gentle, but the songs don't blend monotonously into one and other; however, they do sit wonderfully side-by-side, and it sounds like an album from a man with one vision, rather than a collection of ill-suited sketches.
If I had to pick out one song, it would be Can't Make A Sound, which starts with a whisper but builds to the album's climax proper (before the addition of Bye). It seems apt that a man who took his own life in dramatic circumstances should have ended his final album (work in progress on his sixth album pending) with I'd better Be Quiet Now, Can't Make A Sound, and Bye...
I am incredibly saddened at Smith's demise, and, from a selfish point of view, angry that I will deprived of further releases by a genius of a songwriter (unless, of course, the work in progress was at a sufficient stage for us to hear). But if his death brings him to the attention to the world, and his work gets heard by a larger audience, then that is one crumb of comfort.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Buy 'Cos Of His Tragic Death...But Because It's Great, 28 Oct 2003
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
Following his recent suicide, there is bound to be an upsurge of interest in Elliot Smith's music. Some might see this as hyporcritical; I myself simply see it as the simple fact that sometimes it takes news like this to raise awareness that somebody even existed.
That taken into consideration...I have been a fan of Elliot Smith since around 1998 and, although I've not listened to him so much recently (due to it being three years since he had released an album and the fact I had recently bought several other albums) he has remained one of my favourite songwriters and I had been eagerly looking forward to his sixth album.
When I heard he had died, the first thing I did was stick this (his last and my favourite CD) on and was reminded how wonderful it is.
Despite his reputatation as a sad acoustic troubadour, this album displays a range of talents from the piano-led "In the Lost and Found" to the snarling rocker "Junk Bond Trader" while final song (bar a closing instrumental) "Can't Make A Sound" has shades of Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips in use of effects and production.
Obviously Nick Drake and the Beatles remain reference points but it must be pointed out that Smith was no copyist and I truly feel his best moments could not have been written by anyone else. "Everything means nothing to me" and "Happiness" in particular shine here although, perhaps even more so due to what has happened, it is the quiet melanchony "I'd Better Be Quiet Now" that sticks in the mind and may be used as an urgent comforter on lonely winter nights. The line "If I didn't know the difference, living alone would probably be ok, it wouldn't be lonely..." is to my mind one of the most heartbreaking lyrics ever committed to disc.
For a newcomer to Smith (and whilst some fans feel understandbly differently, I hope Elliot Smith gains a lot of new fans - he always deserved to) this album, along with XO, probably provide the most valuable introductions to his brilliant music.
To return my starting point, I don't agree with buying albums of people just because they've died. Especially when there are lots of reasons to try this superb album.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elliott Smith: a man you can trust, 17 April 2001
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
"You're a little bit like God!" I remember someone shouting as Mr Smith took to the stage at last year's Glastonbury Festival. You won't find any "bigger than Jesus" claims from the modest American but in a current music that makes Bono look distinctly saviour-like Figure 8 is certainly an album that deserves to be listened to religiously. In a world of mundane, manufactured puppets Elliott Smith is a man you can trust. Figure 8 is one of those perfect hazy summer soundtracks that you could easily let wash over you, but to do this would be to miss the beauty of the record. Listening to Figure 8 you can't help but feel buoyed by the shimmering eloquence of the tunes and yet the lyrics are of such a crushing, heart-breaking nature that you almost feel guilty for enjoying listening to this out pouring of anguish. It is the way in which Smith conveys his torment that makes him undoubtedly one of the finest lyricists around. As he harmonises, Simon and Garfunkel style, through 16 tracks of social commentary, anecdote and emotion Smith sings with such humanity and feeling that his songs have the power to really touch you. Easily Elliott Smith's best work to date, Figure 8 adopts a more rock 'n' roll feel musically on songs like the outstanding 'LA' and Stupidity Tries' but still contains plenty of Smith's signature ballads ('Everything Reminds Me Of Her' and 'Somebody I Used To Know' being the pick of these). Sounding more gloriously fragile than his previous efforts the most powerful moments of the album come during these ballads when Smith's vocals are at their most delicate. Around a year on from its initial release Figure 8 still fails to be recognised by the majority of the record buying public and this album of astonishing beauty looks confined to being one of the lost jewels of 2000.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A creative genius..., 13 Dec 2005
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
It is rare to find an artist with such talent as Elliott Smith. ‘Figure 8’ is a masterpiece in everyway. In my opinion, ‘Figure 8’ was the peak of Elliott’s career. He carefully constructs a record that reflects both a combination of ‘Either/Or’, and ‘Xo’, which creates a creative masterpiece so much so that it is hard to find faults within it. The lyrics throughout the album constantly reflect Elliott’s emotions towards life that creates a real sense of intimacy within the record. As a great fan of Elliott smith, I had never felt that connection truly establish until I heard ‘Figure 8’. The one thing that elevates this album from the rest of Elliott’s work is the collage of folk-rock-ballard that fits beautify within the whole album. If the piano to ‘In the lost and found (Honkey Bach)’ and the uplifting beat to ‘Color Bars’ does not get you head bobbing, you seriously need to consider your taste in music. This album is Elliott’s finest, and it’s a damn shame that such talent ended as it did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't usually do this kind of thing..., 10 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
I've got to admit I've never felt inclined to write a review before, I guess I got too annoyed reading the NME to ever want to be a music hack.
You should buy this, it's a really wonderful thing to have tucked away for a lonely evening in on your own. The melodies are completely disarming, what can start out with little promise will turn in to something wonderful. Just listen to 'Everything means nothing to me' you'll see what I mean. Immediately preceeded by 'Everything reminds me of her' which is genuinely touching, it maybe comes a little close to sixth form poetry teritory but in a good way.
Opener 'Son of Sam' was released as a single, and style wise you can see why it was chosen, its catchy, it has a nice hook to its about identifying with a serial killer.
Not playing by the rules as you can see.
In any review you will read about the production and the increase between Smith's first solo releases, which were a side project for him while he was still in Heatmiser, and Figure 8 and XO. Figure 8 is not as produced as XO, but neither album is as heavily produced as anything you would hear on FM radio in any given hour. It still all sounds pretty hand knitted in comparison to the mainstream, and that is a very good thing indeed.
Make yourself happy, in a meloncholic sort of way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Special, 25 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
This is a much more consistent record than his major label debut 'XO'. That record had many charms but sometimes suffered from over baroque arrangements on somewhat slight tunes. This time out he's written a superb set of songs to match the quality found on his 'either/or 'album and dressed them up in a sympathetic production which enhances their charms immensely. Everything Reminds Me Of Her and Wouldn't Mama Be Proud find their way into your head and stay with you all through the day. The songs are beautiful, uplifting and sad by turns and his soft fragile voice is truly beguiling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This man just gets better with every release!, 20 April 2000
By 
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
Hey, don't be put off with the mention of Bernard Butler in the Amazon review. BB would do well to remember that he's a quality guitarist but is in the Vauxhaul Conference when compared to the likes of Elliott Smiths song writing abilities.
ES fans will have already bought Figure 8 in eager anticipation of their next fix, pure and simple this man is Class A addictive. If this is your first outing then i'd liken this to the perfect Sunday; just the right amount of melancholy, luscious sweeping arrangements offset with fragile delicate songs. Think of a gutsier Simon & Garfunkle, a one man Beatles. If you're already familiar with ES then place this between the spellbinding XO and the sparse blueprint of Either/Or which for me was great songs but a little light on production.
ES is a people watcher, his observations and his ability to convey what he sees are outstanding. Can't Make A Sound, Junk Bond Trader and opener Son Of Sam are my initial standout tracks but like his previous releases these songs have a great ability to grow like Ivy, creeping into the mind and taking over.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Smith�s best yet., 7 Oct 2000
By 
J. Davies "johndaviesliverpool" (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Figure 8 [VINYL] (Vinyl)
This is Smith's best yet. 'Son of Sam' gets it off to a storming beginning, a great celebration of shoddy life, "I'm not uncomfortable feeling weird" he sings; and the raunch and lilt of the tune confirms that actually on this form he's unstoppable.
Each song here has classic potential. Every person on earth who's ever needed a pick-up after being knocked down, rejected in a relationship will find a wealth of encouragement here, from the jolly venom of 'You're just somebody that I used to know' to the airy 'Stupidity tries'.
And then there's some songs that are JUST GREAT SONGS - 'Junk Bond Trader' and 'Wouldn't Mama be Proud?' are criminally singable. Arise from the gutter Elliott Smith - triumphant troubadour of all of us failures everywhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Simply One of the Best Albums Ever Made, 25 July 2000
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
A clever, well written, lyrically great album with consistently good quality tunes throughout. Great guitar/piano interplay, fantastic voice - listen to it a few times and if it grabs you then i guarantee you will rate it as much as i do. brilliant!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new level is reached!, 15 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Figure 8 (Audio CD)
I dont know what I can say that has not already been said, this album is awe inspiring! ES takes his music to a new level, leaving behind the desolation and despair of his debut Roman Candle, a new more hopeful direction is carved. That is not to say it lacks in the personal fragility of his previous work, Everything Means Nothing To Me is living proof of that! The beautiful harmonies are woderfully contrasted by the reverse drum beats! This album is a work of art painted by a man who has found hope! If you have a pulse by it now! Also buy the other four albums!
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Figure 8 by Elliott Smith (Audio CD - 2000)
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