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. That every track here reinforces that memory of him makes it an unexpectedly fitting tribute.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The 24 songs... are characteristically and uniformly excellent.
  5. 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.
  6. 80
    New Moon sounds less like a pile of outtakes than an official album released in a parallel universe.
  7. 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.
  8. The albums Smith released before his probable suicide in 2003 had a bruised, fragile quality, and these sparse songs... are no different.
  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. 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.
  11. You can hear him trying to figure things out, and that’s the most lasting and vital aspect of New Moon.
  12. Too few of the two dozen half-developed tracks here do justice to Smith's talent as a songwriter.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. There is nothing tentative or unpolished about any of these songs.
  16. 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.
  17. The results, though rarely the caliber of the albums that bookended this era, are a consistent delight.
  18. 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.
  19. It does reveal how thoughtful and meticulously pretty his songwriting was, even on his most intimate recordings.
  20. New Moon is thankfully, wonderfully full.
  21. As hope, there are revealing looks at Smith's developments as a writer. [#17, p.87]
  22. 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]
  23. As a whole, the collection is as indispensable as Either/Or. [31 May 2007, p.96]
  24. 80
    The strongest [tracks]... get to Smith's best impulse: a willingness to find the innocence in life. [May 2007, p.94]
  25. 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]
  26. 94
    New Moon is Smith at his musical best: quiet, humble, and most of all, honest. [#25, p.96]
  27. Moon's two cohesive CDs prove as emotionally powerful as anything in his catalog. [1 Jun 2007, p.68]
  28. There are some real gems here. [12 May 2007]
  29. 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.
  30. Despite their disparate origins this is no hotchpotch of leftovers and out-takes.

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