Released from his contract with Dreamworks 'From a Basement...' allows Smith to indulge in his more experimental whims. Whereas 'Figure 8' was suffocated slightly by pressure of commercial success "From a Basement...' cuts loose and is sometimes a sprawling affair, far removed from what Smith has done to date. In fact, this is Smith's heaviest album by some margin. The first track 'Coast to Coast' begins with a ghostly orchestra before rocking into what sounds like a lost Heatmiser song. The heaviest number is without doubt 'Strung Out Again' which starts out with Smith's trademark intricate chord progressions and erupt into an amazing chorus with dischordant guitar work that Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood would be proud of. At times Elliott's lyrical honestly becomes almost too hard to listen to, detailing his addictions and time in hospital. His most brutal song, 'Memory Lane' is set to a jaunty fingerpicked guitar and features the lyrics: "Uncomfortable apart, it's all written on my chart, that i take what's given to me, most cooperatively, i do what people say and lie in bed all day, absolutely horrified, i hope you're satisfied". The only gripe would be that the Disney-esque bird noises of 'Ostriches & Chirping' is credited as a 'song' but is really an intro to 'Twilight'. Having recorded over 30 songs for this album surely the two could have been merged as one and another song could have been included. Elliott's songwriting has often been compared (quite rightly) to the Beatles and this album definitely draws comparisons with 'The White Album' because of it's scope of creativity. But, unlike the Beatles' effort, EVERYONE will fall in love with this record. Elliott has, yet again, raised the bar for songwriting brilliance. It's a shame there's now no-one around to better it (media celebrated artists such as Damien Rice don't even come close). A stunning reminder of a truly unique talent. A sad reminder of what we have lost. An essential buy and 5 shooting stars, no question.
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