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"XO"
Elliott Smith
Of related interest: late Heatmiser, the Apples in Stereo, Paul McCartney's
"Pipes of Peace"

You've probably encountered a zillion reviews of Elliott Smith's major-label
debut and first record in the post-Oscar-nomination spotlight; every critic in
America agrees that Smith is a genius and that "XO" is a masterpiece. I'm
here to offer a dissenting opinion. It's trite to call someone's album
"overproduced," especially since a guy with such strong pop sensibilities at
some point needs to get out of the bedroom and into a studio with microphones
worth more than the GNP of Ecuador. Bus Smith and his L.A. buddies lay
everything on so think that it over-shadows the raw emitionality of the lyrics
and the tunes. The surging pop songs work fine; "Baby Britain" sounds as if
it's playing on the radio in a station wagon with faux paneling on the sides,
and "Bled White" hides a sober declaration of fragility behind a bouyant,
free-floating melodicism. Songs that update the shuffle-and-sulk of his first
three albums --- "Waltz #2 (XO)," "Independence Day," and "A Question mark" in
particular ---also cut through the sheen. Elsewhere, Smith sounds distant and
perhaps caught in a choice between crafting a perfect pop record and maintaing
the lo-fi gentleness of his earlier work. "XO" is worthwhile, but it's much
more a stepping stone than the magnum opus it's cracked up to be.
Richard Martin

taken from willy week, a portland paper. check out their site here: will week