BUILT TO SPILL There Is No Enemy CD/2xLP

I am pained to have to pan a Built to Spill record as I've been an ardent and loyal fan of the band throughout their entire career. I in fact released their first record, Ultimate Alternative Wavers on my own C/Z records label way back in 1993, so I was excited to receive this, their first record since You in Reverse which came out in 2006. That record received mixed press, but I thought it was another great Built to Spill release. There Is No Enemy does not however follow suit. According to the press release, Doug Martsch wondered if this would be the last Built to Spill record he ever makes. The impression that I have is that he was tormented trying to write this record, literally spending three plus years, throwing out more than he kept. The result—one would expect—should be a tour de force, but what we get instead is a record that feels like a bad case of writers block. It's a collection of eleven largely uninspired mid-tempo songs that drag, the bulk of them meandering lackadaisically and unconvincingly. There are few, if any discernible hooks, and Doug and the rest of the band seem bored. The only place on the record where the tempo picks up and springs to life is on "Pat," the seventh song which features ex-Treepeople bandmate Scott Schmaljohn, and indeed feels like an old Treepeople song from those old, old days. The song is about Pat Brown, former Treepeople bassist and Scott's brother who sadly died back in 1999. I keep listening hoping that I'll suddenly get it, but I've listened to There Is No Enemy a half dozen times through and that cathartic "aha" moment just hasn't happened: I'm afraid it just ain't there. [Warner Brothers]

-Daniel House



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