So I was listening to this album while reading a book on Quantum Physics (by Brian Greene – anyone with even a passing interest in either understanding how the universe works or having crazily trippy stuff to think about when they do drugs (or both) should read “The Elegant Universe” and/or “The Fabric Of The Cosmos As Soon As P) and had a really obvious thought. It went something like this: “Say! We’re all immersed in an ocean of millions and millions of electromagnetic fields every day! Every cellphone, radio, television, giant cartoonish magnet etc. is emitting and utilizing one. Of course, they don’t really have any impact on us – we walk through and among them and these waves do precisely nothing to us physically and (as far as we know) nothing mentally either, but we’re immersed in them all the time nonetheless.” Also, I was thinking just now, there are trillions of neutrinos (massless by-products of beta decay) passing through our bodies every second too. The universe is a scarily complicated place and I sometimes don’t see how so many people are so uninterested in it, beside the part where knowing about it has no bearing on our lives at all unless we’re physicists…and we aren’t, because that job is 99/100ths working on mathetical equations and failure to go with the rare insight or achievement, says the large sample consisting of the one physics prof I’ve asked. “They” say the achievement is worth it. I just make racist jokes.
But the universe isn’t what Elliot Smith’s here to sing about. Go listen to the Flaming Lips or MC Hawking or something you damned stoner.
Elliot’s here, instead, on this self-titled album, to sing about things like the book “The Phantom Tollbooth” (“Alphabet Town”), White Christian supremacy (“The White Lady Loves You More”, “Christian Brothers”), the fakeness of the holocaust (“Biggest Lie”), and fruit (“Clementine”). Thirteen rockin’ anthems for you teens whom Avril Lavigne is too hardcore for. And let’s face it, with her new “Bonez” tour, she’s pretty fucking hardcore (z’s instead of s’ are signs of hardcoreness).
Okay, yeah, that paragraph was all lies, especially the part about Elliot Smith being here, because in reality he’s there, “there” being in a grave, maggots eating his eyes. But when he was alive, he made this second album of excellent acoustic guitar-led minor-key tunes that manage never to get too annoying or sappy. More instruments this time, with keyboards and drums and other common instruments (bass, Dylany harmonica) popping up more often, but generally in a subdued, letting-the-guitar-lead kind of way. It’s not quite as good as the last, though, with fewer songs being truly memorable. Even if “Needle In The Hay” is maybe his best song ever. It’s still very calm, and he still has a very nice deep voice that he knows how to use (eg no oversinging or painful emoting) to complement his acoustic guitarary talent and admirably restrained lyrics about love, drinking, dead cities and a little death. If you ask me, the album only gets better as it goes on. Ah what the gosh darn heckfire, it gets the same rating as the last one.
Elliot Smith – a good way to look sensitive for your girlfriend without listening to Bright Eyes!