Figure 8

Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Checkout.com
    100
    It's a sweeping, gorgeous masterwork that draws upon a collage of pop flavors from the last four decades, brightly burning the eternal singer/songwriter flame and touching down for a couple of power pop punches.
  2. 90
    This relentlessly engaging album hangs together even better than its illustrious predecessor.
  3. A dreamy, layered work that merely ups the rock ante of his perfectly balanced 1998 release, XO -- an exquisite union of wistful acoustic stylings and polished pop.
  4. Smith has shifted his focus away from crafting the perfect pop epic; though this description fits several of the new tracks ("Son of Sam," "Junk Bond Trader"), there are just as many melodic fragments or simply structured ballads ("Everything Reminds Me of Her," "Somebody That I Used to Know").
  5. Even if it is a very impressive statement overall, Figure 8 isn't quite the masterpiece it wants to be -- there's something about the pacing that just makes the record feel long...
  6. A strong collection of lush, densely arranged power-pop and inimitably intimate ballads?
  7. An album awash with pretty ambiguities and difficult twists.
  8. 80
    There are no real surprises on Figure 8, just the same gorgeous, soft vocals and acoustic guitar heard on his previous releases...
  9. Smith's talent lays in his ability, like Tom Waits, to create a surreal landscape populated by crafty guitar and piano work and a haunting, layered voice that climbs cheek to cheek with his instruments to create something unheard of today.
  10. 80
    Smith retains the Lennon-esque simplicity and quirky lyrical phrasing that earned him critical praise in the past even as he digs deeper into his psyche and attempts to work through an off-kilter world.
  11. Call it thinking-man's pop from a reluctant star, but Figure 8 is a "grower." However weird it may sound initially, it merits repeated listenings.
  12. 80
    The record is not a disappointment, it's a progression.
  13. Most riveting are the ballads, where he conveys a devastating truth with conversational ease.
  14. 70
    Smith makes a valiant effort to match the austere beauty of XO... Still, he falls short on the most important element of his songs, the vocal melodies.
  15. For all their harmonic convolutions and tucked-away chorales, the arrangements exude modesty, without the arena-size inflation of Beatle-fan bands like Oasis...
  16. While nothing here fails the consistent artistry of his work, neither does any of it make the direct connection to a soul and heart.
  17. But while Elliott Smith includes some of his least inspired music of all time on Figure 8, he also surprisingly pulls out some of his best to date.
  18. His music has always straddled the line between fragility and triviality, and too much of ''Figure 8'' falls on the wrong side of that divide.
  19. Smith is capable of subtle introspection, but too many of his new songs sound like the self-pitying complaints of an adolescent venting in his diary.
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 60 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Sep 7, 2010
    10
    in my opinion, Elliott's best album... the first listen is nice but almost forgettable, but as great music does, Figure 8 just keeps gettingin my opinion, Elliott's best album... the first listen is nice but almost forgettable, but as great music does, Figure 8 just keeps getting better. ... Full Review »
  2. Mar 5, 2014
    9
    Figure 8 is the first exposure I've had to Elliott Smith, and what a great album it is. The entire record is a deep, passionate statement fromFigure 8 is the first exposure I've had to Elliott Smith, and what a great album it is. The entire record is a deep, passionate statement from Smith. The songwriting is superb, and his vocals are fantastic. He sings of heartbreak, moving on, and generally growing older, but with such poetic finesse you really sink yourself into these tracks.

    All In All, Figure 8 is a brilliant record, and one that really shocked me. A-
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 14, 2011
    8
    I found this more difficult to get into than other Elliott albums, but it's also by far his least depressing if you're (understandably)I found this more difficult to get into than other Elliott albums, but it's also by far his least depressing if you're (understandably) looking for something a little less brutal than From a Basement on a Hill or Either/Or. More Beatlesy than probably any of his others, musically speaking, and more dream-like lyrically speaking. Full Review »