Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, built to spill, Doug Martsch, Releases of the Week, There Is No Enemy
PREVIEW: LISTEN to Built to Spill’s “Aisle 13” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Boise-based indie pioneers Built to Spill have been responsible for perhaps some of indie rock’s most ambitious and timeless sounds. After two decades of making music, some speculated that the aging group was losing their potential for growth. In the 2000s, the band’s releases were criticized as empty and largely unfocused. However, with the release of their tenth record to date, it sounds as though they’ve returned to their creative prime. There Is No Enemy is distinctly them, and we couldn’t be happier to hear it.
As Built to Spill’s first release in three years opens, there is no doubt that the wonderfully-aged alt-rockers are back in true form. The band’s signature, solid and undeniably-bottomless sound is splattered across opening track, “Aisle 13.” It’s a scenic and surreal sound that fans and new listeners alike will surely revel in.
Some may wonder how founder and principal songwriter Doug Martsch has anything left after amassing such an impressive catalogue over the years. However, not only is there enough material still to talk about, but the writing on the album overall comes off as surprisingly unique. Without losing their unmistakable tone, Built to Spill have produced their most mature-sounding album yet, even this far into the game.
On a few of the tracks, listeners will easily pick up on a bit more of a southern twang in the writing (see “Hindsight”). It’s rarely overdone, and adds a bit of flavor to an album that some might easily misdiagnose as too repetitive. One of the collection’s best features is the unquestionably-improved dynamic between the guitars and drums, as There Is No Enemy features some of the group’s most notably well-meshed playing to-date.
So will this be their final studio album? Some speculate that it will, but judging from the newfound vigor in Spill’s writing, no one can say for certain. And come on, the last track is called “Tomorrow”. That’s got more cliffhanger potential than the end of a Harry Potter book. I guess some things do get better with age.
— John Luposello