Music Review: Elliot Smith’s “Either/Or”

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Kolja Westhues

Over the past year, Elliot Smith has become one of my favorite musicians. His music channels a perfect balance of complexity and silence.

My favorite album by him is his third record, Either/Or. This LP was also used in the soundtrack of one of my favorite movies, Good Will Hunting.

The first track, “Speed Trials,” is a good start to the album. It builds up the vibe of the record in an exciting way while still remaining quiet. It uses drums to drive the more energized feeling of the song.

The second track, “Alameda,” is one of the songs on the album I don’t enjoy as much as the rest. It is somewhat repetitive and is a bit boring and cliche. The chord progressions and vocals feel unoriginal to me.

One of my favorite songs of the album, “Ballad of Big Nothing,” is perfect to me because it both has more of a drive than the other songs while maintaining the vibe of the rest of the album. I also enjoy how the instrumentals and vocals were mixed very closely. I also deeply enjoyed the drum track used.

His most popular track, “Between the Bars,” is also one of my favorite songs. It has a super quiet sound. I also enjoy the full guitar sound. The lyrics on this track are also very well written. One thing that I also enjoy is that the chorus, and the rest of the song doesn’t have that much of a difference in sound or dynamics.

The fifth track, “Pictures of Me,” is probably my least favorite track. The song incredibly basic and less enjoyable to listen to.

The track, “No Name No. 5,” has recently become another one of my favorite tracks off the album.

“Rose Parade,” while one of the lesser interesting songs, but it is still an amazing tune. The songwriting on the track feels exactly the same as a lot of his other music, though.

My favorite Elliot Smith song of all time, “Angeles,” is a masterpiece. It is the perfect Elliot Smith song. The song uses his trademark complex while quiet energy. The lyrics and strong structure are also perfectly written.

“Cupids Track” is probably the most forgettable track off the album. It’s far too simple for a Elliot Smith song, and the drums are used for way too long.

The song “2:45” is a very good song that utilizes storytelling well.. Its guitar perfectly compliments Elliot’s vocals.

The final track, “Say Yes”, was the first song I knew by Elliot Smith. Although Elliot’s guitar playing is fairly simple, it works better than many other songs on the album. This song was written the best in my opinion, and the song structure is incredibly interesting.

In conclusion, this album is my favorite Elliot Smith record. I would rate it 5/5 stars.