By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Despite the inflated reputation of 1999's Keep It Like a Secret, it's obvious that Built to Spill never made the perfect Built to Spill record. Instead, the band's Pavement-meets-Phish take on jammy indie rock is universally agreed to be best realized live and, to its credit, it's been remarkably consistent—though never transcendent—through the band's first six studio records.
The seventh, There Is No Enemy, finds the veteran Idaho band, fronted by unlikely guitar god Doug Martsch, again pairing gummy riffs with wispy vocals. Unlike, say, Ancient Melodies of the Future's brilliant closer, "The Weather," there's no foray into folk on this effort, but the slow burn of "Nowhere Lullaby" and the Frampton-esque opening to the following track, the epic "Good Ol' Boredom," gives listeners all the variety they could need—and all the variety you'd get from a show by this lean, mean touring act (who go roadie-less). Elsewhere, the Westerberg pulse of "Pat" and the creepy cornfield vibe of "Oh Yeah" flesh things out, switching up the terrain enough to keep it interesting for 55 minutes.
Maybe that's why Enemy feels a little like the mid-to-late-period live album the band should have released by now, and why it's probably the most complete Built to Spill record to date. Is There Is No Enemy Martsch's masterpiece? Not necessarily, but it's closer than at least five of the six other albums.
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