From A Basement On The Hill

  • Record Label: Anti
  • Release Date: Oct 19, 2004
Metascore
88

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 37
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 37
  3. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. 100
    It's simply wonderful -- bristling with pop masterpieces large and small, and reassuringly unburdened by Smith's deep-seated malaise.
  2. You are drawn to the conclusion that these songs would be remarkable regardless of the circumstances in which they were written.
  3. Alternative Press
    100
    Every track on Basement is a highlight. [Nov 2004, p.150]
  4. If you're not moved in some way, you don't move.
  5. Los Angeles Times
    100
    Freed from the more formal sound and circumstances of his previous work, Smith indulged without being indulgent, and the revelation here is the exuberant, instinctive, playful and daring sonic pilot who was hidden inside the meticulous craftsman of such albums as "XO" and "Figure 8." [10 Oct 2004]
  6. 100
    Exquisite, angry, sad and personal, basement is a beautiful swan song of one of this generation's best.
  7. Entertainment Weekly
    91
    The record is strong and radiant, if not always upbeat.... One of the best he ever made. [22 Oct 2004, p.92]
  8. Filter
    91
    Large and epic, but tense and claustrophobic as well, and gratefully, it's as close to Elliott as we've ever been. [#12, p.92]
  9. Spin
    91
    Smith's intentions cry out from the album's every discordant corner--he clearly wanted to test himself, to unhinge parts of his sound. [Nov 2004, p.105]
  10. From a Basement on the Hill is a far better album than it has any right to be, with its bizarre sequencing and improbable ambitions.
  11. While it's likely that From a Basement is cleaner than what Smith... intended, it is much sparer than Figure 8, and it feels at once more adventurous, confident, and warmer than its predecessor.
  12. An unfinished album, and also a beautifully accomplished one.
  13. A far better album than it has any right to be.
  14. Planet
    90
    Marks the crown atop Elliott's other five albums: a unique gift from a huge-hearted musician. [#8, p.79]
  15. Under The Radar
    90
    There is a certain confidence inherent in these tracks, as if Smith had finally proven to himself that he didn't need to try to outdo The Beatles in his arrangements. [#7]
  16. New Musical Express (NME)
    90
    While this is clearly not the record Smith intended to make, it's still an immensely gripping and cohesive piece of work. [23 Oct 2004, p.47]
  17. The album is, in short, phenomenal. It certainly doesn’t match the beauty and heartbreak of Either/Or (1997), but it manages to recapture the spirit of that record while properly articulating the orchestration that Elliott had been working with for Figure 8 and XO (1998).
  18. Mojo
    80
    As ever, his chord changes and arrangements betray an inventiveness seemingly borne of brilliant instinct. [Nov 2004, p.92]
  19. The low-fi yet meticulous arrangements only add to the sense of isolation and the poignancy of the songs. [18 Oct 2004]
  20. On the whole Basement is noisy and rough, and often sounds more like the best record Heatmiser never made than the next Elliott Smith album.
  21. Uncut
    80
    From A Basement... returns us to the more unfiltered, denuded sound of his earlier [albums]. [Nov 2004, p.106]
  22. Blender
    80
    His bleakness was never this naked or all-consuming. [Nov 2004, p.143]
  23. Q Magazine
    80
    This is largely intense, liberated stuff. [Nov 2004, p.111]
  24. The most fitting of testaments -- a flawed, courageous, beautiful and intimately human portrait of the self.
  25. Smith bundles subtlety and ferocity to create one of his heart-aching best.
  26. More structured and electric than Either/Or, but without the overproduction of Figure 8, Basement is the next logical step.
  27. Hill feels more like a retrospective than a steady gallop toward the next stage in Smith's artistic advancement.
  28. The most disheartening thing about From a Basement on the Hill is its plainness-- it's neither a perfect record (and not one of Smith's best) nor the kind of colossal disaster that could be angrily pinned on money-hungry handlers and desperate fans.
  29. This is an album about the seductions of oblivion, and a few of the more densely arranged songs mimic the characters in the lyrics, stumbling around without quite connecting.
  30. A fitting farewell to a distinctive voice silenced too early.
  31. The good news is that there is no real filler on the album, but this uniformity of quality equates to an album where every song is good, but where few are really great.
  32. Slightly overlong and sometimes stitched-together, From A Basement On The Hill sags in spots.... Yet in the end, the album still earns its place--not at the top, and unfortunately as a bookend--in a jarringly important body of work.
  33. A fine collection of songs from an immensely talented, tragically lost soul.
  34. While it makes a lot of musical leaps (it's probably the most "experimental" work he's done), not all of them work, but there are still some great moments for fans of his work here.
  35. This final record is neither focused nor infallible, instead a rarer glimpse at a man whose creative doorways, once the source of so much hope and inspiration, had become outnumbered by his demons.
User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 110 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 64
  2. Negative: 0 out of 64
  1. Jan 4, 2017
    9
    The album features Elliott's coldest lyrics, but features his most instrumental use in any album. The album gives us great singing and rhythmThe album features Elliott's coldest lyrics, but features his most instrumental use in any album. The album gives us great singing and rhythm you don't see often together, Elliot's whistling voice oddly goes along well with the electric guitars and the drumming. It's like their perfectly pulling a rope apart from each other, a perfect balance, an exquisite equilibrium. You can feel the distraught in his voice, as he's going down his downward spiral. He talks about heroin in "Little One" and his constant pushing away and hurting independence in "Let's Get Lost". Elliott's acoustic is soothing as normal, and this album just completes the end of his career. Full Review »
  2. Aug 17, 2013
    10
    Maybe this isn't the fairest review, because I'm a huuge Elliott Smith fan. I do feel like this album has a rawness that is invigorating,Maybe this isn't the fairest review, because I'm a huuge Elliott Smith fan. I do feel like this album has a rawness that is invigorating, particularly on the rock tracks. Some of his finest picking resides here as well. King's Crossing is one for the ages, and the sequencing totally works. This is amazing stuff. If you're not a fan, I don't really get that, and if you are then you don't need my encouragement. All the same, pick this up. Full Review »
  3. Jun 6, 2012
    10
    The best Elliott Smith album, I wonder how it would turn out if he was still alive. Its so sad how much sadness he carried. It seems oftenThe best Elliott Smith album, I wonder how it would turn out if he was still alive. Its so sad how much sadness he carried. It seems often that the people with the most talent and soul are taken so soon. Full Review »