Built to Spill, There Is No Enemy

Built to Spill has served as the influence and inspiration for many other indie bands. They inhabit a secure area in indie rock, which gives them credibility, but where fame remains out of reach. Their folk-infused, bluesy rock teeters along the postmodern lines of Pavement while hailing to an earlier era evoking the likes of Neil Young.

There Is No Enemy is Built to Spill’s seventh album. It is dreary and unmemorable with each fuzzy chord melting into the next. There are few standouts tracks like “Aisle 13” with its psychedelic rock reverb and static supporting Doug Martsch’s high pitched staccato. Also “Good Ol Boredom” is a energetic jaunt with heavy reverb and a driving beat, with light melodies mixed with sludgy chords. The brightness of these track can’t dispel the cloudy character of the overall effort. Martsch’s vocals are the reedy falsetto conjuring up the comparison to Neil Young.

Built to Spill have never managed to break out from obscurity. It’s not because they lack talent – they have that in abundance. But it’s that they are unable to make songs that stick in your head, its all sort of one big fuzzy impression. They have great solo guitars and psych rock pastiche but it all never rises above the crowded space into the rare air of the recognizable.

You can hear hints of Ben Gibbard in Martsch — Gibbard has cited Built to Spill as one of the influences of Death Cab For Cutie. So maybe what we have is the original serves as a stepping-stone to grander accomplishments. Gibbard emulates Martsch’s vocal style but applies his special knack for song writing and catchy composition to construct a much more compelling result.

By Shaun Flagg


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