The trope of the sad indie artist has long been a main attraction to the genre, but there's often little appreciation that goes to the real trailblazer of that subgenre: Elliott Smith. Gone but not forgotten, Smith defined the idea of making moody, sad indie tones. Elliott Smith captured his view of the world in the tragic Either/Or, his third album that really showed his sad view of the world.
Smith wrote and recorded Either/Or in his home town of Portland, Oregon, and much of the album refers to things he remembers or observes of his city. An example of this is 'Rose Parade,' a song with a strong alternative vibe that sounds deceptively positive but is a grueling, hateful track against fake personalities, which he himself claims he is guilty of having in the track. 'Alameda' is another track that specifically revolves around his own memories as he walks down a street from his childhood, as well as in opening track 'Speed Trial,' where he specifically recalls "the cathedral with the glass stained black" that was across his house growing up.
While much of the album is a reflection, there's a lot of pain in it as well. 'Speed Trial' itself puts off a vibe that Smith is tired of living in this world. 'Between The Bars' is even sadder and more somber, followed up by 'Pictures Of Me' where he sings about being misrepresented to the point where he begins to hate seeing himself. The record ends more and more painfully, 'Cupid's Trick' sounding dreamier but in a somber way, while '2:45 AM' is depressed and innocent, as if he's questioning why he is the way he is.
Elliott Smith captured his view of the world in the tragic Either/Or, his third album that saw him face everything from painful memories to his persisting depression and anger. While Smith is no longer with us, he left behind a legacy of honest music that shaped everything that came next for the indie genre. His legacy will live on for years to come.
Favorite Track: 2:45 AM
Least Favorite Track: No Name No. 5
Rating: 75 / 100
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