top of page

Elliot Smith's "Either/Or" Turns 26 today

Upon going down a emo rabbit hole this morning I stumbled across a few names that I haven't listened to in years one being the incredible Elliot Smith. I've been meaning to relisten to a few of his albums because i bought a couple of them on vinyl but my record player is still a bit wonky so I said fuck it and was listening to them at work using online. While doing so I was reminded that today February 25th 2023 marks 26 years ago today the album "Either / Or" was released and that album was definitely the one that catapulted the indie artist to his peak of popularity. The album came out 1997 and would make this his 3rd release as a solo artist while he was still the guitarist for the band Heatmiser (which formed in 1993).

Though it came out 25 years ago the first time a heard this album was sometime in 2007, maybe early 2008. Highschool TJ was very angsty and so were my friends so when I was Givin this CD to check out by a friend during the most impressionable and difficult time of my life (thus far) I became enamored with it and him. So going back to listen to it nearly 8 years since I last listened to the whole thing and 15 years since I found out about instantly was flooded with nostalgia. Still holds a key place in my heart after all this time.

The album opens up with the song."Speed Trials" And I remember when I first checked out this album I did not like the song at all but upon listening to it today I can appreciate it a lot more. The song does a very good job at encapsulating the entire feel of the album and has a style that borderlines the sound between emo and nineties grunge with tracking that keeps the imperfections of the guitar playing. Which is a thing that is constant throughout this album and something i really enjoy nowadays. Lines like "You're such a pinball yeah you know It's true. There's always something you come back running to" I still catch myself saying in rhythm to this day.

3 tracks down-the-line we come to my favorite song on the album titled "Between The Bars" a very melancholic and soft song about being aware of your alcoholism and personifying it as a sort of lover you're dependent on. I have had my own sort of struggles with alcohol over the years so at this age there's sort of a added relatibility to this song that I didn't have when I was younger. Lyrically comparing alcohol or any sort of addiction to a lover, a protector, a distractor and even a cop at times. There are metaphors upon metaphors almost making you forget it's about what is about which in itself kind of goes with the theme. There's levels to this song I did not pick up as a teen. I was caught up with the sad vibes of this and the rhythm of the song but I can appreciate it fully now and it moves into the category of favorite songs. I had to repeat this song over and over and over again because it hurts so good.

I don't have many emotional connections to a lot of the songs on this album though i do think they are good. Songs like Rose Parade and Angeles are very well written but nothing to it more than "that's a nice song" however other than "Speed Trials" And "Between The Bars" the one that I have a very big connection to is the final song on the album and possibly Elliots most popular song "Say Yes". This is a song that's been covered by the likes of Ben Folds, Phoebe Bridgers and even Jack Black. This song did a great job at showing vulnerability talking about how you lived life v in one moment but you were scared and unsure and now you don't know how you're managing life. Ending a relationship because of fear and not knowing how to live with all of it. It is a simple song with some beautiful lyrics. "It's always been wait and see. A happy day and then you pay. And feel like shit the morning after" and the lines "Crooked spin can't come to rest. I'm damaged bad at best. She'll decide what she wants. I'll probably be the last to know" really spoke to my angsty ass back in highschool. The amount of relationships that I tarnished because I felt like I was unlovable And ended up listening to this song on repeat in my room because "Elliott Smith knows how it is" is too damn high.

Overall this album still holds up really well. I am apathetic to a few songs on this album but the amount of songs that I really really like outweigh the ones that I don't really care about. The good outweighs the bad and I would give this album a solid B+ overall.

It's wild to know that this album is 26 years old today.




1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page