Under Review: Built To Spill – There Is No Enemy

For better or for worse, Built To Spill’s reputation will always precede them.  Whenever the elusive indie rockers are poised to release an album, it’s always a momentous occasion to see what the new songs will sound like.  It’s not that they change styles with each album, but they have an unfortunate tendency to sound too much like themselves if they’re not careful.  Their albums from the ‘90s, namely Perfect From Now On and Keep It Like A Secret, are masterpieces that hold up as tremendous rock records.  Since the turn of the decade, though, Built To Spill’s albums have hit a bit of a slide.  Their most recent, You In Reverse, was a little too heavy for its own good, with the gems being outshone by the self-congratulatory duds.  The group’s newest album, There Is No Enemy, thankfully redeems them from the inevitable ‘Indie Vets’ concert circuit with the collection of tight arrangements and unabashed rock that these guys desperately needed.  Doug Martsch reasserts himself as having a great ear for melody, as “Hindsight” and “Pat” exhibit superb energy and craft.  Lyrically, Martsch has gotten rather biting on the new tunes.  In “Planting Seeds,” he proclaims that “They’ll play your favorite song/Just to sell shit to you.”  Even in “Good Ol’ Boredom,” when he says “most of my dreams have come true,” you can’t help but wonder why it’s not all of his dreams.  Maybe Martsch has become jaded with the scene that he’s so strongly associated.  If that’s the case, then Enemy might not be the label-shedding gesture that he intends.  That’s just as well, because the album is instead a welcome return from some of modern music’s foremost rockers.


~ by E. on October 9, 2009.

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