Review Summary: Just because this doesn't reach the heights of Perfect From Now On or Keep It Like A Secret doesn't mean this record isn't a must-hear for any fan of indie-rock.
Built to Spill, the indie rock band hailing from Boise, Idaho, has one of the deepest and most accomplished discographies you can find in the genre. Yes, I said it. The name Doug Martsch may not conjure the same thoughts that a mention of Elliott Smith does, and someone bringing up a song from Keep it Like a Secret may be less common than someone mentioning a song from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. That being said, this band is definitely a classic in their genre. The successive albums Keep it Like a Secret, which contains a laid-back summer twang, and Perfect From Now On, Martsch’s venture a few tiny steps into progressive territory, are absolute masterpieces. But I digress, I’m here to explain the beauty of the prelude to these, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.
Doug Martsch, the vocalist and only enduring member of Built to Spill, is obviously the main attraction of the band. His way of spinning words is especially pertinent on a few songs here. The pair of songs coming in at track 3 & 4 are examples of Martsch’s unique songwriting/vocal combination. While the whole album has a sort of dreamy feel to it, Big Dipper is the perfect example of this. The lyrics are borderline juvenile, but every verse is a different memory from a guy who isn’t in the best place. Then comes "Car", one of my all-time favorite songs. I could probably point out every line here in some way or another, but this review is boring enough already. It starts off with Martsch feebly singing,
“You get the car, I’ll get the night off
You’ll get the chance to take the world apart and figure out how it works,
Don’t let me know what you find out.”
The track proceeds to climax with Martsch belting out “I want to see movies of my dreams,” with an amount of emotion in his voice that is so uncommon for his usually frail and almost lifeless lines. Basically, this track is a must-hear. There are a few other tracks worth mentioning other than these. Another particular standout is the brief and beautiful "Twin Falls", where Martsch describes his hometown and how he escaped. "Stab" provides a very stable ending for the album. While it isn’t the most spectacular closer ever written, it’s another reminder for how consistent this album is.
While there are no doubt a few highlights, TNWWL has one overwhelming strength, a lack of filler. This is what I consider the main criteria between a 3.5 and a 4. Every song on the album is perfectly listenable, and you will probably find yourself switching favorite songs after enough listens. The mood is very static throughout the album- very dreamy, reminiscent, and slightly melancholic. Unfortunately, this lack of variety is also the album’s biggest downfall. Lack of change between songs is Built to Spill’s biggest downfall here. Other than "Car", there is definitely a lack of standout tracks that can be listened to over and over again.
I would describe TNWWL as the perfect representation of Built to Spill. While it isn’t their most impressive output by any means, it focuses on things like consistency and atmosphere to create a great record. I wouldn’t recommend this for a first-time Built to Spill listen, but it is a must hear for any fan of the indie-rock genre.
About time this has been reviewed, nice job. Such a great record. I'm not going to say its better than PFNO, but I tend to listen to this a lot more. With the possible exception of 'Some', there is not one bad song. Ah I love this band.
Good review, this is one of my fave bands also. And "Cars" is my favorite track on here also. Have you ever noticed that "Distopian Dream Girl" sounds a lot like Brand New's "Failure By Design"? ...Coincidence??
Built to Spill definitely was one of the best bands in the 90s and one of the best indie bands of all time. Good standout-track picks, I'd choose exactly the same. I do think Stab is an outstanding closer. You kow that moment when he goes "But life goes on.. and on and on and on and on and on..." and that riff comes in! Great.
Not sure about that final sentence of the review though, I mean, this ain't shoegaze is it?
hmmm... I didn't do the tracklisting and I've never changed one before but I can try. Yea, that is wrong though.
CtL... are you sure? I guess I don't have anything to verify that but it always sounded kinda like my loose definition of shoegaze, maybe a general indie rock label would be more accurate though. Can a get a second opinion?
Erhmm yeah, shoegaze and Indie are pretty much my fave genres so I should at least know that No, I mean sometimes it gets slightly close to shoegaze but it's definitely just pure indie rock. It never has the typical sounds of shoegaze, trust me I haven't only heard Loveless ;)
BTW, as you mentioned Elliott Smith in the 1st paragraph and praised Car, did u know that Elliott actually covered the song a few times in live gigs.
BTW 2, earlier today I found a cool site with BTS gig posters:
Hmm.. well he never did a proper cover of it so don't think you can compare. Anyways I think the original is better as 99% of the time. Elliott made some songs better though, as the cover of Thirteen. But yeah, like I've said a million times, I think Elliott is the best songwriter of all time.. I mean at least the best who's ever got the chance to record.
Well well.. my fave album is a tie between the s/t and Enten/Eller..
I think the songs itself are greater in the s/t, but the latter has better production and more variety, and it was the first album I heard by him so.. But I def. prefer his earlier work, with the four-track recorder u know.. In XO, although it's also a superb album, the production is a bit too good and sometimes too many instruments are used in a way. Acoustic guitar ftw haha. My favourite song is by far Christian Brothers, it's the most heartfelt song I've ever heard in fact. Anyway we could talk about this later, I got some work to do atm.. u dont have a last.fm?