Built to Spill
There Is No Enemy


2.0
poor

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
December 26th, 2009 | 23 replies | 3,939 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "I wanna see-ee it when you find out what cometsstarsandmoons are all about."

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

An ominous figure looms over the landscape, and makes its lofty presence known by growling loudly and lucidly. The burly snarl emanating from the creature, distinguish its personality, even though it blends in serenely to the scratchy drapery of the purple backdrop. If only Built to Spill had managed to follow the footsteps of this mysterious, regal, entity on the album art, they could have had another Perfect From Now On or Keep It Like A Secret up their sleeves. Instead, There Is No Enemy resembles much more closely the small house, the secondary character. Like the house compared to the creature, the aesthetic on There Is No Enemy resembles previous Built to Spill work very closely, but doesn’t even come close to distinguishing itself in a distinctive, positive manner. The latest from 90’s indie heroes is a disappointment, a reason to lose faith in the Martsch crew. While they retain many of the same characteristics that made them so special 10 years ago, unfortunately it’s the negative factors that are so outstanding on There Is No Enemy.

The pop-infused gems that practically defined their previous work are semi-present on There Is No Enemy. “Aisle 13” with a quirky, catchy melody is an grand start to the album, and would have been a welcome addition anywhere on Keep It Like A Secret. “Hindsight,” though, acts like gravity, propelling There Is No Enemy back towards the harsh reality that this is not another masterpiece. The alt.-country twang that embodies the song is certainly a step to the left for Built to Spill, but it’s impossible to call it a step forward because of the apparent lack of progress. The plodding, unenthusiastic song is riddled with laziness and even boredom (not just for the listener, but even by the band, also), at times. And already, it becomes obvious why Built to Spill’s latest is a failure of poor quality: the songs rely on a lazy atmosphere and non-charismatic delivery that ultimately results in a painfully unmemorable listen.

One key departure that Built to Spill exhibits here comes through the production. The lack of fuzz and noise gives way to a much cleaner style. “Good ‘Ol Boredom,” with its Perfect From Now On-length is a nice exhibit of this. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, the song has many of the same characteristics that made Built to Spill great- the layered guitars, a dreamy atmosphere, and a jam session tacked onto the end. Instead, the result is entirely off-base, as Built to Spill forgets a key component, the percussion. The drumming is repetitious and unimaginative, serving as another reminder that Built to Spill has fallen from their lofty pedestal.

But remember, Doug Martsch and his delightful songwriting is still here, so how bad can this really be? He does manage to save There Is No Enemy from ultimate doom, with his dreamy and superior vocals. They mirror the instrumentation at tmies, though, with his lackadaisical presentation (i.e. “Done,” “Tomorrow”). Also, refer to “Pat,” if you will, to take a gander at where Martsch (and finally something a bit more inspired) provides this album with some life. His songwriting is scarily consistent, and provides as a centerpiece for the unstable album to balance upon. He’s becoming a bit older, and along with age comes a little newfound cynicism. This is on full display on “Things Fall Apart,” “Stay out of my nightmares, stay out of my dreams/ You're not even welcome in my memories / It doesn't matter if you're good or smart-- goddammit, things fall apart.” It takes more than a few listens to sink in, but there’s definitely something to be said about the definite maturity on There Is No Enemy, and the more genuine feel than the more contrived faux-maturity of bands of 20-somethings straight outta college that wear their psychology on their sleeve.

While charisma and charm are difficult to quantify and judge albums by, I feel like this album is certainly devoid of them. There Is No Enemy is a mish-mosh of qualities that make former projects successful (prolonged, free-flowing “jams,” pop sensibilities, and catchy melodies). But, Built to Spill seems to forget to add energy to the equation, and the songs have Martsch, along with the percussion and guitar lines, feeling wearisome and tired. It’s as if they’re content (well-deserved may it be) with their former work and decided to give a half-assed effort on There Is No Enemy. The album is presented in such a way that feels like Martsch’s heart isn’t in the project, especially compared to BTS’s former days. And if the band can’t get excited about their latest release, it make wonder why I should.

With There Is No Enemy, it’s impossible for me to claim that Built to Spill have evolved. Changed-yes, but the definite lack of compelling material on There Is No Enemy isn’t anything desirable. The album is truly the sum of its parts (especially in the sense that it warrants an all-album listening experience), it’s just a shame that so many parts are missing. Absent is the enthusiasm, gone is the excitement, missing is the charisma, and what’s left is an experience that at best is relaxing and at its worst is painfully unmemorable. Much like the little house in the corner, There Is No Enemy will essentially be forgotten in the obscurity, a lost piece of the puzzle that is Built to Spill’s discography.



Recent reviews by this author
Mogwai Rave TapesTau Tau Eyelids
Ghost Ship Golden GirlsCrosses EP
Warren Franklin Your Heart Belongs To The MidwestFrightened Rabbit A Frightened Rabbit EP
user ratings (191)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Keelan H. EMERITUS (4.5)
Built to Spill return to remind us why they're still one of the best acts around....


Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


NOT cool, Doug Martsch, creating one of the most overrated records of '09, NOT COOL.

sorry for the gay intro, by the way, I was struggling.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

tom79
December 26th 2009



3363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I disagree but good review all the same. I was initially somewhat disappointed with the album but after a few plays I found I dug most of the songs here. And seeing them live around the time it came out made it better too. Aisle 13, Hindsight, Life's a Dream, Pat, Planting Seeds, Things Fall Apart and Tomorrow are all top notch BtS songs in my opinion.

Digging: Braid - No Coast

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


I imagine seeing these live would definitely help, they're fantastic live. But in my opinion none of the songs on here (except possibly Aisle 13) rank up with BTS greats.

bungy
December 26th 2009



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. The "a reason to lose faith in the Martsch crew" statement though, I disagree with.

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


Bungy: maybe a bit harsh, but their work has declined pretty steadily imo

bungy
December 26th 2009



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I agree with that

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 26th 2009



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but doesn’t even come close to distinguishing itself in a distinguishing, positive manner


Thesauras please. Otherwise okay review, and I mean yes I disagree, but I thought this was one of your weaker reviews. You're kind of vague with some of your criticisms like, they don't have charisma or energy or something. Also I agree the drumming is a bit bland, but hi that's every Built to Spill record pretty much, though the other albums have more inventive drumming, Scott Plouf has only ever been about keeping time anyways.

And what, "Tomorrow" is probably the best song they've done in awhile. Also, saying lacksadaisical presentation is what I mean by vague. Like, what about the presentation is lacksadaisical? You could beef this up a bit, but I mean, it's still better than 90% of the reviews we get on the site so yeah.

... oh, and "Hindsight" has alt-country twang now?

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


bhoy: thanks for your critique, instead of trying to verify my points here I'll try working them into my review, because, I agree,
now that you mention it it could use a little backing up... thanks.

and am I the only one who hears that in "Hindsight?"

WatchItExplode
December 26th 2009



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

doesn’t even come close to distinguishing itself in a distinguishing, positive manner.
unenthusiastic song is riddled with laziness and unenthusiasm

...redundancies

a tad harsh but definately well-written

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2009



14983 Comments


band is so boring sometimes

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2009



17195 Comments


SAD PANDA!

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


EDITED: and thanks for the help guys, appreciate it

WatchItExplode
December 26th 2009



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this, you in reverse, and Ancient melodies of the future can all be bland as fuck sometimes. People need to go all the was back to There's Not hing wrong with love, the normal years and ultimate alternative waivers in addition to the albums heralded here. I personally feel that these guys are at their best when they were quirky and sloppy with fuzzed-out production

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


Yea YEA Yea pretty much ^

bungy
December 26th 2009



8843 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"I personally feel that these guys are at their best when they were quirky and sloppy with fuzzed-out production."

Yeah I love that

WatchItExplode
December 26th 2009



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

easy...i've heard what they're capable of

Yotimi
December 26th 2009



6436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

My biggest disappointment this year. Good review man. I hate using the word 'boring' to critique music because that's kinda saying music isn't allowed to be reserved or laid back...but this is boring in the sense that it sounds like each band member themself is bored and going through the motions on each song.

WatchItExplode
December 26th 2009



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

bland seems to be the perfect adjective here...this is oatmeal without brown sugar

SeaAnemone
December 26th 2009



19680 Comments


Yeah, "boring" sounds like such a copout when reviewing a bad album, but it's so perfectly apt here.

I really debated giving this like a 3, but then I realized I was only doing it because I'm in love with Doug Martsch and couldn't
believe he actually did something wrong.

oh and WatchItExplode... nice "oatmeal w/..." mind if I use it for the intro haha?

WatchItExplode
December 27th 2009



3198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

knock your self out friend...check out my doug martsch solo review though



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy