Elliott Smith – Either/Or

You know what bothers me?

Not gonna answer?  Okay, then.  Just because I asked you a question doesn’t mean you have to be all snobby and silent.  Geez.  It’s when people say that anyone who isn’t a musician shouldn’t criticize music.  Why does the ability to play impact the abiltiy to critique and have an opinion? Just because I don’t know how to play guitar doesn’t mean I can’t recognize when I don’t like something.  It’s ridiculous and I feel defensive and etc. etc.

I say that because I know Elliot Smith is a cult hero and all that and he’s not attractive and that means his fans are genuine and none of that makes Either/Or a good album, even from the perspective of someone who should hypothetically be awestruck by the mere fact that he can strum hookless in well over half of these songs.  The others are good, like “Between The Bars”, which was popularized in the movie Goodwill Hunting that I hate because it’s the worst example of the cutesy little “the title could mean something interesting, but no, it’s just the name of the main character – gotcha” game that moviemakers play, the uses-electric-guitar-and-well “Cupid’s Trick” and the catchy-vocal-melodied closer “Say Yes” try to salvage the album but mostly it’s those hookless strummers like “Punch And Judy”, “No Name No. 5” and “Alameda” that dominate and leave you feeling vanilla about the whole thing.  And you’re going to feel somewhat vanilla about any Elliot Smith album when it’s done already, because too much Elliot Smith leaves you feeling vanilla anyway, so this one really really makes you vanilla.  And somewhat bored after the horribly titled “Cupid’s Trick”.  Better luck next time, L. Yot!  I’ll be over here criticising.

Oh, also, the main acoustic riff to “Between The Bars” is from a Stan Rogers song I can’t quite place the name of.  Look for it when I review that Canadian folkie at some point in the future – or just buy his entire catalogue, because he’s a good’un.

6/10

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