Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Elliott Smith: Figure 8

Dear Reginald Vel Johnson:

In a conversation with somebody who deserves attention, I have come to understand that my last post was sacreligious and offensive. I would like to reneg on all of my prior and previous prayers for money. I would also like to return all of my "Jesus is My Homeboy" merchandise in a show of unity with our religious cousins in the north.

Because of my attitudes in the last post, I would like to atone for all of my sins and misdeeds. Mr. Vel Johnson, you are the best. Every time you play a cop on the big-screen or on television, I am moved by your realistically surly portrayal. Who would have thought that Carl Winslow could be such a threatening cop in the Die Hard movies? Not I, that's who!

On to business. Reginald, I have some important information to share with you. It is about one of the most underrated albums of all time (click on in-text links for samples of the tracks).

Elliott Smith: Figure 8.

Up until 1999, Elliott Smith had not released a poorly received album. Roman Candle, Elliott's first album, was an instant hit. The most amazing thing, and a testament to Elliott's songwriting genius, is that Elliott recorded the entire album under the stairs in an old house, and the songs were simply the most recent eight songs he had written. The self-titled album, Elliott Smith,, followed suit, with very little production value. Critics loved Elliott's stuff and couldn't get enough. Either/or was more of the same, and XO took Elliott in a new, highly-produced direction. Elliott made yearly critics' top-ten lists and increased his sales with each album.

Then, Figure 8 came along. Even though Elliott played almost every single instrument on every track of the album, this was to be Elliott's most elaborately orchestrated and higly produced album to date. Critics hated it. They felt that Elliott did his best work in "Lo-Fi" settings. They didn't understand what Elliott was going for with the epic sound of tracks like "Can't Make a Sound" and "Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?", and they flocked to the more typically Elliott-style tracks like "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "Everything Reminds Me of Her." Figure 8, ending in a track titled "Bye," was to be the final album Elliott released before he passed away (the album he had completed in the final weeks of his life was released on the anniversary of his death). It's a shame that more people were turned off of this album by sour critical reviews, as well as their own preconceptions and biases.

I guess I'm writing to you about this, Mr. Vel Johnson, because I was hoping that you'd be able to help spread the word about this awesome album. In fact, tomorrow may very well bring another one of the most underrated albums of all-time.

With love,

Spoodles, Editor in Chief

P.S. Reginald, please give me a million dollars.

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