Written By: Justin Rands
Label: Warner Bros. – Rating:
As someone who has grown up listening to Built to Spill for quite sometime, I’d have to say that this specific record, in which Doug Martsch claims might be the last, feels, for lack of a better word(s), completely complete.
Coming off a three-year hiatus, about which Doug Martsch has explained “There are plenty of Built to Spill records—no one is in a hurry to hear something new,” the new album feels like a carry over from their last record “You in Reverse”, which after doing some researching, wasn’t by accident. A few of the new tracks, Oh Yeah,” “Life’s a Dream” and “Nowhere Lullaby”, were actually a carry over from the 2006 album.
The album was recorded over a years time, where the members would meet up between the time they spent touring and rehearse the songs that Doug had put together in his studio in L.A., and then some later in an old Theater outside of Los Angeles.
“There Is No Enemy” is nothing short of perfect; it yells Built to Spill. It’s an epic landscape of sound, built (no pun intended) brick by brick with lyrics drenched in philosophical metaphors and cemented with a full fledged reverberated blend of layered guitar twangs, solos, piano medleys, and loud drum crashes. It even has the same artist who’s done a few of the other album covers, including “You in Reverse,” Mike Scheer.
On the effort of this whole album, Doug’s wife explains on their myspace page:
“I watched him work, pouring hour after hour, day after day into writing. Song lyrics were labored over then thrown in the trash, guitar parts revised again (and again). A musician and artist like Doug edits far more than he keeps.”
And after listening this seems true. Every song seems planned out; everything’s specifically placed and thought about. After listening to the album several times over I can honestly say that the lyrics Doug expresses on these songs truly aim to express on what it’s like to live in this society, the effect it has on us and our personal relationships, and thoughts about coping with it all as you get older. Even though it’s grand poppy album, it is very dark in theme and gets into some pretty ‘heady’ topics.
Songs like “Good Ol’ Boredom” have lyrics like:
“And all we want is anything,
that will take our minds,
off this non stop anxiety
for a time”
Or there are songs like, “Life’s a dream” where Doug proclaims:
“Sound like fear,
thinking there might be a cure,
waste your life,
but you don’t know it’s worth.
Each song is very personal and tackles some existential dilemmas that Doug seems to be going through. But don’t be scared off! It’s not a downer of an album by any means; the band definitely does its share of rocking out. The songs will make you think, though. Which, nowadays, people would rather not do. I won’t even count myself out of that category. But I’m thankful for the insight Doug gives because it’s nice to see the artists we love grow as we grow and think about and flush out ideas that are sometimes too difficult for any of us to explain ourselves.
Spanning almost an hour in time, I suggest any fan of Built to Spill, or music in general to spend a time listening to this record. You surely won’t be left unsatisfied, which lately, seems to be happening a lot more often.