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Perfect from Now On

Built to Spill

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Album Review

Not many groups would take a major-label contract as a cue to put out an album where the shortest song is still a radio-unfriendly five minutes in length. For that listeners can thank their stars that Built to Spill isn't like many groups and Doug Martsch not like many artists. Perfect from Now On manages the amazing trick of being the band's best album to this point, Martsch and company using the opportunities for larger budgets and distribution to create an album at once inspiring and quietly emotional, not the easiest combination to pull off. With drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson as the other core performers, plus second guitarist Brett Netson and cellist John McMahon as key guests, the result is astounding all around. The length of the songs allows the band to create uniquely post-everything mantras, blending psych trances and drones, post-punk airiness and flow, and Martsch's affecting, tender singing and lyrics into a whole. Martsch's high tones and the guitar passion here helped fuel further comparisons to Neil Young — to pick out one moment, consider the closing minutes of "I Would Hurt a Fly," feedback peeling out over the rhythm and strings — but the Boise musician is his own man through and through. Selecting standout moments from such a solid disc almost defeats the purpose, but many examples still deserve further notice. "Stop the Show" builds to a dramatic, but not in the least bit hammy, shift from a roaring wash to a quick, clipped pace; Martsch's vocals and further sudden tempo switches are the icing on the cake. "Velvet Waltz" indeed plays at that musical pace, McMahon's playing and Martsch's heartbreaking, lovely lyrics and singing the core of a incredible song. "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)" concludes a simply fantastic record.

Customer Reviews

Still 10 Times The Size of Jupiter after 10 years

This album was released just after my undergrad years and the alternative music was anything but alternative. Album executives were trying to cash in on everything that could be considered "alternative". Unfortunately most of the stuff wasn't worth discussing. Then along came the declaration that built to spill was releasing their first major labelled album under epic records. It was strange to think that BTS would be considered part of the mainstream but it also meant Doug Marsh was serious about this band and that that BTS wasn't the Treepeople from his early years. BTS recorded this album in Seattle away from their traditional haunts of Boise and after 10 years the concept album still works. I think the contridictory album title fits this album to a tee. Perfect From Now On is not by any means perfect but the long winded jams and witting lyrics are worth every penny. Velvet Waltz, Out of Site and Stop The Show are my favorites. I recommend listening to Stop The Show on the Live Album. Awesome.

Ahead of their time..

In my search for new and excellent music I came across some stuff by Built to Spill, specifically Keep It Like a Secret... which has become my favorite disc of all time. Falling madly in love with Built to Spill off that disc led me to their early albums, which I have read so much accolade about from more hardcore fans. These older albums do not have the straight to the point catch that the new tracks have... but man oh man... if you are looking for brilliantly crafted masterpeices of alternative/indie rock, look no further. This particular album is by far their most phenomal in the writing department. Another classic disc from BTS is Theres Nothing Wrong With Love... and the most amazing thing about an album like that is that it was written in 1994 but sounds like some excellent freash track that just came across from your college radio station. If you love indie rock and excellent songwriting... and you do not own a Built to Spill album... you are truly missing out. I feel so stupid that it took me 10+ years to catch on to this band.

Perfect from Now On

Frustrating. Annoying. Terrible. Aching. Bad. Awful. (two weeks later) Decent. Nice. Not half-bad. Pretty good. Wonderful. Frustratingly, terribly, achingly beautiful. That was my progression when it came to listening to this album. It's so grating on the first few goes, or at least it was for me, that I was more than angry at all of the critics who recommended the album. Just about all I liked was the catchy beginning to "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)" and snatches of other songs. Of course, as other parts of the songs, notably the "Part 2" part kicked in, I hated all it. Part of it was Martsch's vocals, which reminded me of Isaac Brock without the attitude and with more of a nasally whine. Part of it was the instrumentation. It echoed Modest Mouse's, though there was something notably harder thrown into the mix. Next came the lyrics, as indecipherable as anything Jeff Mangum has done. I couldn't stand any of it. Now, I can't get enough. Where to begin with the praise? First of all, as much as I love There's Nothing Wrong with Love, this album expands on that so much, creates songs so deep that you can hardly comprehend them if you just want to hear music for its surface value. The lyrics are very intricate, and require many listens before they start to sink in. Take, for example, "Randy Describes Eternity." Martsch sings, "Every thousand years/This metal sphere/Ten times the size of Jupiter/Floats just a few miles past the Earth/You climb on your roof/And take a swipe at it/With a single feather/Hit it once every thousand years." That's nothing compared to eternity, he tells us, but the sheer scope of it is so amazing and intense that it has to be heard multiple times to be believed. The instrumentation is just as intricate and complex, too. Take, for instance, "Velvet Waltz," my personal favorite. It starts out pleasantly enough, and ends with angry, grating, droning guitars, taking several detours along the way. You get so caught up in the music that, at the end of it, you occasionally have to go back to see where all the twists and turns take place. Of course, hearing it again, you sink into the music and don't take care to notice exactly what happens as the song progresses. Several songs take twists and turns like this, including "Made-Up Dreams," the shortest song on the album. My one complaint is that there isn't more. It would have been nice to have a few There's Nothing Wrong with Love-length songs to put between the epic giants, if they wouldn't detract from the focus of the album. I wouldn't have minded a double album, either. Still, the album does work well this way. There's no unwanted excess. I recommend this album for anyone who can safely say they like music. Don't buy individual songs. It's not worth it to try to divide up this album, a work that, yes, can do well enough on its own, but does just as well, if not better, when kept together as a whole. If you like music, just buy it. Listen to it. Let it grow on you. You won't regret it.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Boise, ID

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Built to Spill were one of the most popular indie rock acts of the '90s, finding the middle ground between postmodern, Pavement-style pop and the loose, spacious jamming of Neil Young. From the outset, the band was a vehicle for singer/songwriter/guitarist Doug Martsch, who revived the concept of the indie guitar hero just as Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis — another important influence — was beginning to fade from the limelight. On record, Martsch the arranger crafted intricate,...
Full Bio