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Figure 8

174 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 18, 2000
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Audio, Cassette, April 18, 2000
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$7.39 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 8 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

The story of Elliott Smith is well known now: Shy and reclusive indie rocker soars to a Hollywood soundstage and major-label contract. His fans gasped in collective horror when he took a bow at the 1998 Oscars, his hand clasped by Celine Dion. He seemed far too fragile to survive among the sharks and vultures on the corner of Hollywood and Vine. But as his subsequent albums XO and now Figure 8 show, Smith has weathered the spotlight successfully and is moving ahead with self-assured grace. The beauty of Figure 8 is that it encompasses Smith's musical virtues, from the stark and wispy tunes of his lo-fi beginnings on Roman Candle to the orchestrated, Beatlesesque pomp and circumstance of later work to the intimate and sometimes painful nature of his live shows. Figure 8's opener, "Son of Sam," is as good as anything Smith has ever crafted, its soaring melody buoyed with lush instrumentation and a tin-pan-alley piano romp. "Happiness" is vintage Smith, its lyrics belying the title. But best of all are "Everything Reminds Me of Her" and "Everything Means Nothing to Me," which capture the dichotomies of Smith's music. The first is a lovely, delicate little tune--just Smith's wavering voice, a plucked guitar, and the plaintive lyrics of unabashed longing. The second is a layered soundscape, heavily produced, with washes of music covering a repeated lyrical line. One is direct, naked, and honest; the other is slippery, distant, and rational. These are the yin and yang of Smith's music, and it's the friction between the two--or, more accurately, the wreckage from one obdurate truth bashing up against the other--that makes Figure 8 resonate with such devastating power. --Tod Nelson

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. Son Of Sam (Album Version) 3:04$1.29  Buy MP3 
  2. Somebody That I Used To Know (Album Version) 2:09$1.29  Buy MP3 
  3. Junk Bond Trader (Album Version) 3:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Everything Reminds Me Of Her (Album Version) 2:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Everything Means Nothing To Me (Album Version) 2:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. L.A. (Album Version) 3:14$1.29  Buy MP3 
  7. In The Lost And Found (Honky Bach)/The Roost 4:32$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Stupidity Tries (Album Version) 4:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Easy Way Out (Album Version) 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Wouldn't Mama Be Proud (Album Version) 3:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Colorbars (Album Version) 2:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Happiness/The Gondola Man 5:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Pretty Mary Kay (Album Version) 2:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. Better Be Quiet Now (Album Version) 3:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Can't Make A Sound (Album Version) 4:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Bye (Album Version) 1:53$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 18, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B00004S6GL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,028 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 6, 2003
Format: Audio CD
A lot of fans like to dog this album. I have a theory for why this is.
It's not that the album is bad, at all, but that it's not the Elliott that THEY want Elliott to be. They fell in love with the man behind either/or, or the self-titled, or (gasp) the barely audible Roman Candle. They swoon for the quietness, the starkness, the nakedness, bitterness, intimacy. They think "hi-fi" is a four-letter word, not to mention "production", and dare I even say it, "pop."
They were willing to accept XO as a temporary stray from the purity of their vision for his career. In their forgiving state of mind, the music was able to seep into their brains and they saw its brilliance. Hence, XO = good. And, surely Elliott will get back on track next time.
Figure 8 comes along and dashes their hopes. Their beloved tortured soulmate actually knows his way around modern expensive studio technology - AND HE LIKES IT!!! Traitor!
Man, I love E.S. and E/O as much as anyone. Love em. Love em love em love em. But I'm one of those who believe that Elliott broke through into an altogether new plane of genius with XO. And Figure 8 is absolutely a worthy continuation of the path he was on.
Put it this way - if I'm taking ten to the desert island, XO is in the bag for sure. Figure 8 will be really, really hard to leave out. The others, I'll miss a hell of a lot.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Burnett on May 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD
"Figure 8" sounds like what would have happened if Nick Drake had been asked to join The Beatles after Paul died in that horrible car accident. Elliott Smith's voice falls into the haunted, ethereal category currently helmed by Drake during his post-VW resurgence. And this album carries any number of Sgt. Pepper-like arabesques and musical pirouettes, all of which serve to nearly disguise the raw emotional content.
This is my introduction to Elliott Smith so I have no background in his earlier, less-lush work, and maybe I'm the better for it. ... since I have no basis of comparison, I'm prefectly free to get lost in the spider web of sound spun on "Figure 8". And, perhaps because I've recently had my heart broken, all the lyrics make sense instead of being maudlin or overwrought. I will, of course, reexamine this in a year or so when I feel better, but I have a feeling that this record will stand the test of time.
Standout tracks are the opener, "Son of Sam", a deceptively-jaunty song that sounds almost like Klaatu at a high-school carnival. "Everything Reminds me of Her" and "Everything Means Nothing to Me" are fraternal twins, each with a different sound, but inseperable - they should be played hand in hand in perpetuity. "Somebody that I used to Know" is heartbreakingly simple, deceptively upbeat and captures perfectly the sound of a man on the edge of regaining himself. The rest of the album is wonderful, but these are the tracks that pierced me.
I am grateful to the friend who introduced me to Elliott Smith and I can only hope that, if you buy "Figure 8" after reading this review, you will be grateful, too.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Stan on April 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I truly believe that Elliott Smith will, in the next few years, release a record that will transcend genre and taste and be universally recognized, like "Revolver" or "Pet Sounds", as one of the greatest pop recordings ever issued. Yes, even greater than "Either/Or", which I still consider Elliott's greatest accomplishment to this point. "Figure 8" is not the future magnum opus of which I speak, but by any standard, even as a holding pattern it is a masterful record. "Figure 8" reconciles and has elements of the three stages of Elliott's career to this point: 1. the indie rock of his first band, Heatmiser; 2. the hushed, fragile, minimalist 4-track recordings that made his reputation; 3. the semi-famous pop troubadour making big-sounding records for a corporate record label. Elliott sounds much more comfortable in the big studio element than on "XO," and if "Figure 8" isn't as passionate and desperate as his earlier recordings, its comfortable feel enables the listener to simply sit back and enjoy Elliott's abilities as a songwriter, singer, and musician (he is an extremely underrated guitarist and piano player). The least compelling moments of "Figure 8" (in my opinion, "LA" and "I Better Be Quiet") still run rings around 98% of major-label rock. The best songs on "Figure 8" are jaw-dropping in their low-key excellence and sincerity. Some of the highlights: "Son of Sam": A stunner. It starts off quiet, then builds slowly on a solid backbeat and some glorious background "a-hhhhhha"s. And then the electric guitars kick in, and the song really takes off. Musically, it's truly inspiring.Read more ›
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Critics are falling all over themselves to praise this album. But for some reason, many long-time Elliott fans have many less than kind things to say about Figure 8. I consider myself a relatively long time fan of Elliott (I have all five of his albums), and I think I understand why many feel that this album is below par (although I steadfastly disagree with them as you'll realize by the end of this review). The first time I heard Figure 8, I thought it was great, but a great album for Elliott would, for me, be on the bottom of a list of exemplary albums that he has previously released. I loved the production though, and I knew if I gave it a chance I would love it equally as much if not more so than his other albums. I think this production that drew me closer to it, repelled many Elliott fans. People who adore Roman Candle and the s/t (of which I am one) may think this is "overproduced" and as a result, not as passionate. I am here to tell you why that is not true and why, track by track this may be Elliott's finest album to date.
1. Son of Sam - Fabulous, the piano gets me going every time (boy can Elliott play that thing). The melody is great (as usual) and have you ever enjoyed hearing about a serial killer so much?
2. Somebody That I Used to Know - Very early Elliott, and the one that people who don't like this album generally name this track as their favorite. Terrific, Elliott and a guitar and a great vertical melody.
3. Junk Bond Trader - OK, it took me a while to get into this one, I don't know why, it's a great track. I love the keyboard at the intro, and the bells throughout the track. Very Elliott lyrics (even though I don't know them all yet). I love the guitar as well.
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