Built to Spill
Perfect from Now On


4.5
superb

Review

by avonbarksdale221 USER (3 Reviews)
March 17th, 2014 | 64 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A densely layered record of guitar-heroics and existential musings that almost lives up to its name.

Chock-filled with Pavement-esque lo-fi slacker anthems, Built to Spill’s sophomore effort There’s Nothing Wrong With Love saw the Doug Martsch lead indie-outfit begin to emerge as unlikely underground heroes. On their follow up and major label debut, 1997’s Perfect From Now On, Martsch and co. essentially abandon the hook-heavy pop sensibilities of its predecessor, instead opting for an 8-track, 54 minute record comprised of spacious soundscapes and gradual crescendos that ebb and flow into powerful climaxes and jagged indie rock choruses. Multiple guitar tracks weave their way in and out of every song, while broodingly atmospheric cellos and pulsating mellotron lines enhance the existential tone of the LP. Released to critical acclaim and commercial success, circumstance lead to Perfect being recorded three times. The final result is stunning; with bassist Brett Nelson and drummer Scott Plouf as back-up, Martsch was able to construct his magnum opus, that not only stands as an indie rock masterpiece but as a landmark album in a decade rife with musical creativity.

Experimenting with longer song-structures and with a heightened reliance on tension and release, Perfect sees layer upon layer of guitar tracks integrated throughout into every song. In lesser hands this would result in a disharmonious mess; Martsch, however, is able to carefully craft each song in a way that is never overbearing, as each guitar line perfectly complements every other instrument in the mix. This is perhaps best exemplified in album highlight Velvet Waltz. A symphony of wailing guitars provide back-up for Martsch’s philosophical ponderings, as reverb-laden and distortion drenched guitars are piled upon one another before exploding into a glorious cacophony of screeching guitar leads, all as the front man postulates “A grave mistake/but how could you have known/the temperature, the distance of the sun”. Elsewhere, Out of Site demonstrates the levels of variety on display, juxtaposing densely melancholic verses with an explosively fast-paced chorus, before the breakdown provides the albums heaviest musical moment and immediately follows it with its poppiest refrain. The song culminates with Martsch’s most impassioned vocal performance, climaxing in a gradual fade-out of distortion-heavy guitars and driving drums.

The slow burn of album opener and instant highlight Randy Described Eternity perfectly encapsulates the essence of the record, both musically and lyrically. “Every thousand years/this metal sphere/ten times the size of Jupiter/flies just a few yards past the past the Earth” Martsch asserts, as the musical backing exhibits restraint, constantly threatening to burst into a wall of sound climax but never quite following through with its promise. The haunting cello in I Would Hurt a Fly gives way to a ferocious finale, while the three minute intro in Stop the Show builds itself to a crescendo of pounding drums and typically brilliant guitar leads. Penultimate track Kicked it in the Sun shows another side of Built To Spill, as shimmering psychedelic guitars give way to a jubilantly uplifting coda of “We’re special in other ways”.

The existential ponderings of a disillusioned front man hardly break new ground lyrically, but Martsch’s lyrics are clever enough and delivered with such conviction that they remain captivating throughout. Album closer Untrustable Part II is the lyrical highlight, with its soaring refrain of, “And I’d love to see but its something you just feel/and I’d like to feel but it just isn’t real/and God is whoever you’re performing for/and God is whoever you perform for” before culminating with the question, “Can you feel the darkness shining through/what are you gonna do?”

While their subsequent releases were never quite able to live up to the title’s promise, Perfect From Now On is the closest Built to Spill ever got to being, well, perfect. With arguably the greatest guitarist in indie rock history at their helm, the band is able to create a record that is musically dynamic and lyrically intriguing. For whatever reason, they never quite managed to attain the long-term popularity the quality of their music deserved. For those fortunate enough to listen to this masterpiece, however, they’ll find themselves rewarded with the beautiful sound of an ambitious band at the top of their game.

4.7/5


user ratings (1027)
4.3
superb


Comments:Add a Comment 
avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

alright alright alright

Trebor.
Emeritus
March 17th 2014


59863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

spilt to bill

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

what'd you think of the review treb? since this is me popping my cherry and all I suppose I should take criticism and all that good stuff

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


Holy shit an avon review this is Christmas
Criticism is always good. I think you've used a few run-on sentences here and there, and probably a few more verbose adjectives than you need/ "A symphony of wailing guitars provide back-up for Martsch’s philosophical ponderings, as reverb-laden and distortion drenched guitars are piled upon one another before exploding into a glorious cacophony of screeching guitar leads, all as the front man postulates" shows what I mean
Great start though

Hovse
March 17th 2014


2740 Comments


good rev,pos'd

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers boys.



I was just trying my best to describe the sound of the album, but yeah I may have gone a little over-

the-top in parts. Will definitely keep in mind for next time!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


Yeah. Descriptive language is always nice because you want the reader to have a good idea of the sound of the album, but just remember to only use adjectives if you need to.

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

in hindsight "symphony of wailing guitars" is fucking cringe worthy. I'll try tone it down some next time round, but overall this is just the style of writing that I'm comfortable with.

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

also you should jam this nig

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


Its all good this is much better than most first reviews I've seen
And yeah this sounds scrumpalicious

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks bruz, means a lot. now to find the time to start churning em out on a semi-regular basis. speaking of, its been months since you wrote a review - when will be seeing a follow up?

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


I write whenever an album comes along I really dig and feel like needs some more exposure or different opinion
Haven't had a new album hit me like that in a while so maybe its time to go back to some classics like my Division Bell review
Idk when the time comes it comes I don't have a regular rate for writing them at all

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah man fair enough, not like you need to unless you are gunning for contrib or whatev. Your division bell review was tight as hell though so a classic review mightn't be a bad option if you feel the urge!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


Thanks bud I'm proud of that one, any ideas what I should review?!?!?!


avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Inhibition

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2014


47648 Comments


Nah man tom's review of that album is legendary I could never top it
The new DH's dropping this year and I'll be over that like a (simile) but for now... idk??!?!?!

ethos
March 17th 2014


1894 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

NICE DUDE

so glad you reviewed this after it was mentioned in the keep it like a secret thread

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cheers ethos, that convo got me in a mass BTS mood which is what inspired me to write it. needs more exposure on here hard



tom reviewed it? brb reading right now.





Deathconscious
March 17th 2014


27361 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

its been too long since ive listened to a Built to Spill record.

avonbarksdale221
March 17th 2014


8298 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Listen to this then mate :]



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