New Moon - Elliott Smith

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. Though some of the songs here, especially the earlier ones, can be quite simple, even raw at times, there's a sad, clean sweetness that comes through despite the occasional bit of tape hiss, of tinny chords.
  2. Now it is also clear that Smith joins rank amongst the likes of Pavement or the Clash with a perfectionist ability to craft delightful “throw-away” tracks.
  3. Phrases like "rare talent" are thrown around all the time these days, but this compilation makes painfully clear just how unique and valuable this music is.
  4. 100
    While what was lost with Smith is immeasurable, what he left was amazing, and New Moon is an appropriately spectacular monument. [Jun 2007, p.112]
  5. As a whole, the collection is as indispensable as Either/Or. [31 May 2007, p.96]
  6. What this collection of songs from his mid-'90s creative purple patch shows is that few people in recent times have done sadness so exquisitely.
  7. New Moon is thankfully, wonderfully full.
  8. As hope, there are revealing looks at Smith's developments as a writer. [#17, p.87]
  9. What we ultimately get with New Moon feels in part like a Best Of retrospective, but also in part a surreptitious and rather voyeuristic peek at Smith's innermost workings and thoughts.
  10. As fan-boy pleasing as this is, and as great as some of the songs are, it still feels a little like sneaking a peek at a director’s first draft, or rummaging through a scribbly, discarded diary.
  11. 80
    The strongest [tracks]... get to Smith's best impulse: a willingness to find the innocence in life. [May 2007, p.94]
  12. The albums Smith released before his probable suicide in 2003 had a bruised, fragile quality, and these sparse songs... are no different.
  13. Moon's two cohesive CDs prove as emotionally powerful as anything in his catalog. [1 Jun 2007, p.68]
  14. You can hear him trying to figure things out, and that’s the most lasting and vital aspect of New Moon.
  15. For diehard Elliott Smith fans, New Moon is an absolute must... For remaining listeners, it's merely instructive, sublime in parts but not solid enough or surprising enough or interesting enough, musically, to merit multiple listens. [May 2007, p.58]
  16. Too few of the two dozen half-developed tracks here do justice to Smith's talent as a songwriter.
  17. What makes New Moon succeed is something similar to what Shakespeare gets at in many of his sonnets: the ability of art to beat death.
  18. The results, though rarely the caliber of the albums that bookended this era, are a consistent delight.
  19. 80
    New Moon sounds less like a pile of outtakes than an official album released in a parallel universe.
  20. 94
    New Moon is Smith at his musical best: quiet, humble, and most of all, honest. [#25, p.96]
  21. The 24 songs... are characteristically and uniformly excellent.
  22. There are some real gems here. [12 May 2007]
  23. Far from a compilation of rough mixes and rejects, any of the songs on this disc -- as spare in sound as they are elegant in form -- would have fit beautifully on a mid-'90s Elliott Smith album.
  24. New Moon is a near yearbook, a simple reminder of the talent and fruition of Steven Paul Smith, friend, comedian, and one of the greatest songwriters of this generation.
  25. That every track here reinforces that memory of him makes it an unexpectedly fitting tribute.
  26. You’d hardly expect songs as strong as these to be in anyone’s wastebasket, but with only a few exceptions the material assembled here is just as, if not more, intimate and honest as anything on those proper albums.
  27. It does reveal how thoughtful and meticulously pretty his songwriting was, even on his most intimate recordings.
  28. Smith's trademark combination of breathy - almost whispered - vocals, deceptively resilient acoustic melodies, and sombrely introspective lyrics, is shown off to sufficiently good advantage here to make New Moon a worthy companion piece to 1995's Elliott Smith and 1997's Either/Or.
  29. Despite their disparate origins this is no hotchpotch of leftovers and out-takes.
  30. There is nothing tentative or unpolished about any of these songs.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 29
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 29
  3. Negative: 3 out of 29
  1. JamesM.
    Apr 29, 2008
    Elliott Smith is my favorite artist ever. However, this is not a 10 effort as so many fans have mindlessly posted...the record is astounding considering that it consists mostly of b-sides, but on its own merits it's great rather than excellent. Full Review »
  2. LindsayJ.
    Feb 27, 2008
    I've been unable to take this album out of my CD player. Beautiful, amazing, rich, powerful...I could go on & on & on.
  3. RajuK.
    Jan 17, 2008
    If he didn't sing, the CD would have been much better. He can play the guitar, and write some lyrics, but thats where his talent stops. I don't feel like listening to someone who cant sing in a genre of music where I think you need to showcase your vocals when it is almost acapella in nature. He is out of tune every other line. Sorry, not for me. Full Review »