Built to Spill
Perfect from Now On


5.0
classic

Review

by Keelan H. EMERITUS
June 1st, 2009 | 292 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I've gotta be perfect from now on"

Classic albums have that certain appeal to them that draws such a loyal fan base. The emotional weight of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, the grandiose soundscapes of Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Lift Your Skinny Fists..., the perfect pop of The Beatle’s Revolver or the technical prowess of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue; all give these albums a timeless quality that makes them classics in their own right. Then there’s Built to Spill’s Perfect From Now On which is perfect (pardon the pun) for one simple reason: It’s ***ing awesome. To delve into the tired story of how Built to Spill went from making fun and poppy indie rock to emotionally weighty and epically grandiose guitar heroics on Perfect From Now On, seems alternately useless and intrinsic. You just can’t ignore it, because it simply adds to the awesomeness of the album. It’s a surprise akin to Radiohead’s OK Computer, which should prove a sufficient enough comparison to leave it at that. Plus the main reason that this album is so well regarded is, after all, the music.

And it’s around the middle of “Velvet Waltz” that I realize, “goddam, my mind just got blown again”.

It’s the perfect symmetry of tension and release that makes “Velvet Waltz” perhaps the best thing Built to Spill have recorded. The clean guitars sweep you away while the distorted psychedelic wails simmer just under the surface. The climax of the song isn’t necessarily due to volume, but rather the continuous layering of instrumentation and the dynamic shift when lead man Doug Martsch rises an octave to belt, “You better just enjoy / The luxury of sympathy / If that’s a luxury you have / And you know no private bad” as the cello plays the main guitar riff from the intro. The drums finally fill out and those psychedelic guitars burst from beneath the mix and rip the remaining four minutes to shreds. Tension and release also lift some of the shorter tracks (well one of two under six minutes) into a more significant territory. Martsch’s keen eye for vocal melody brightens the end of “Made-Up Dreams” into transcendental territory. The excellent “I Would Hurt A Fly” flirts with a somber cello solo before it decides to rock your socks off in its latter half. It’s this attention to song writing that makes Perfect From Now On such an awesome experience all the way through, even when the songs begin to feel schizophrenic.

“Stop the Show” has an extended, brooding intro before it crescendos into an up tempo rocker that has enough dynamic shifts in the last minute to make Damon Che blush. The entire album is made up of plenty of these angular moments that seem at odds with what precedes and follows it. But as the truest testament to how awesome this record is, it all works and feels completely necessary to the album. Epic closer, “Untrustable / Part 2 (About Someone Else)” begins as a breezy and mellow jam before completely changing directions in the latter half. It’s a subtle change and key that brightens the song and brings it into a poppier area, especially with another memorable vocal melody from Martsch who asks, “what are you gonna do?” This attention to detail is found on every square inch of this record. It doesn’t hurt that the musicians themselves have a bit of skill to show. More then any of the other indie band, Built to Spill are able to mix technicality and accessibility into the instrumentation.

Scott Plouf is exceptional behind the kit as he provides the backbone for the sprawling tracks like, “Kicked It In the Sun”. Second Guitarist and bass player Brett Nelson also adds a great deal of flavour to some tracks. For example, while the end of “Velvet Waltz” is mainly a showcase for the effects riddled guitar work of Martsch, it remains grounded by the elastic bass run of Nelson which is just subtle enough to allow the guitars to shine while never fading into the background entirely. Still, the main instrument here is the guitar work. Martsch writes very layered melodies and riffs for the guitars that work off each other. The song writing is complex enough to be an interesting study while remaining fun enough to simply just enjoy the music. After all, especially with a genre such as indie, it’s mostly about making music that is fun first and foremost. The fact that Built to Spill can add blazing guitar solos is simply an added bonus.

This album is simply a must own for any indie kid, but it doesn’t stop there. The guitar work will also please many resident metal heads and classic rock kids who have an open mind towards music. While it’s not shredding, finger tapping guitar work, it’s still impressively arranged and perfectly executed. The song writing is fantastic and the vocal melodies are memorable. To reiterate, Perfect From Now On is just purely awesome and there’s no better way to describe it then that.



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user ratings (581)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
based avon (4.5)
A densely layered record of guitar-heroics and existential musings that almost lives up to its name....

Jared W. Dillon (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
thebhoy
Emeritus
June 1st 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favourite albums ever, so I felt I needed to review it. Word.

gaslightanthem
June 1st 2009


5209 Comments


I prefer keep it like a secret but yes this totally fucking rules

thebhoy
Emeritus
June 1st 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's hard for me to choose between the two really. This edges it for me but just barely. It pretty much comes down to Velvet Waltz tipping this over that edge.

SeaAnemone
June 1st 2009


20941 Comments


This is so so amazing... especially Velvet Waltz... but Keep It Like A Secret takes the cake.

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

ClearTheLane
June 1st 2009


990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This is so so amazing... especially Velvet Waltz... but Keep It Like A Secret takes the cake.

For me that totally depends on the day. Sometimes even There's Nothing Wrong with Love takes the cake. On a technical level this is the best though.

ClearTheLane
June 1st 2009


990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Good review of a brilliant album.

WatchItExplode
June 1st 2009


3313 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album...love BTS...TNWWL takes the cake and Doug Martsch's lyrics are the frosting

thebhoy
Emeritus
June 1st 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The excellent “I Would Hurt A Fly” flirts with a somber cello solo before it decides to rock your socks off in its latter half.


I did mention I Would Hurt a Fly? And consider then summary fixed.

ClearTheLane
June 1st 2009


990 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

oh sorry my bad.. I did read it a bit too quickly..

timbo8
June 1st 2009


618 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I listened to this for the first time this morning, as a matter of fact. Honestly, it didn't really do much for me, but it may grow on me, especially considering I really like Keep It Like a Secret and You In Reverse.

shindip
June 1st 2009


3536 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pretty dope album. i need to get more by these guys

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2009


15743 Comments


Randy Described Eternity is perfect

rasputin
June 1st 2009


14555 Comments


good band

CkCk
June 1st 2009


141 Comments


great band

rasputin
June 1st 2009


14555 Comments


(h5)

CkCk
June 1st 2009


141 Comments


(pizzapie)

Yotimi
June 2nd 2009


6570 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Your description of Velvet Waltz is perfect and I know exactly the feeling you describe at the middle point of the song. All in all I like Keep it Like A Secret just slightly more, but this is so so good.

iranscam
June 2nd 2009


469 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nearly a 5 for me

MassiveAttack
June 2nd 2009


2688 Comments


Forgot to ask. You check out Pirate Ship Quintet yet?

gaslightanthem
June 2nd 2009


5209 Comments


that's not very relevant to this thread i think u r asking 4 a ban



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