Oct 23, 2009

There Is No Enemy-Built To Spill

"There Is No Enemy" is a definite and defining return to form for Built To Spill. Not to say their last two albums were inferior. In fact they were very good. But Built To Spill were not built to do just very good. They were the gold standard. The benchmark. Three albums in the 90s were reference points for high quality guitar rock. They. Had. It. So, I was pleasantly surprised at the outstanding nature of "There Is No Enemy". Guitars soar through out, taking the velvet voice of Doug Martsch along for the ride.

This album is a fluid and exciting mixture of great guitar riffage, melodic tinges and heartfelt and sometimes oblique lyrics. There are some short poppier numbers, a few blasts of axe wielding and best of all, that thing that Built To Spill does best. I like to call it languid ferocity. Songs simmer and nearly come to boiling point as the famous Martsch vocal floats on top. There is a sad desperation to his voice, a mixture of melancholy set at exactly the right pitch to this ever appreciative ear. Let's go with an example in track three. "Nowhere Lullaby" is a dreamy, billowing song that aches with beauty. "And everyone gets through the night and everyone wakes up all right and the fear you feel will pass, then a calmness that will last we will learn to drift off fast" croons the always reliable Martsch. But back to the beginning. The album kicks off with two shots of joy in "Aisle 13" and Hindsight". Both reasonably brief, but very entertaining. But it is perhaps the ferociously good "Life's A Dream" that announces this album as one of greatness. It contains those trembling guitars, slowly winding its way through a lazily good melody. It even comes with horns. Pure gold. "Oh Yeah" builds on the momentum, with its winding, intricate guitar lines delivering the goods. "Done" has that similar texture, that incessant stabbing of woven guitars lines. They chime wistfully, pulling you into the band's world. Then the album closes with two mini epics. The slow burning "Things Fall Apart" and then the truly majestic "Tomorrow", a song of yearning and plaintive hope. A song of pure beauty. A specific reminder that in 2009 Built To Spill can still make the hairs stand up.


  • At October 26, 2009 , Blogger James said...

    Hey Wayne

    I agree - There Is No Enemy is a nice return to form. I don't think it's as great as their BIG 3 from the 90s, but it's better than You In Reverse for sure. Good write up.

    I like the new look for ONL, though I'll miss the old one. I'm an old dog and new web designs take a few minutes to adjust to. It looks really spiffy though.

    Hope all is well


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