With There is No Enemy, Built to Spill ends their three-year studio album drought with a flood of sound that immerses the listener in a bath of warmth and fuzziness.
The band’s eighth release in 16 years finds the band still creating deep, sonically sophisticated, and abstract tracks of art. The core five-piece ensemble solicits contributions from six guest musicians to construct the complex vibrations of this intentionally unstructured and meandering record. The subdued and endearing vocals of Doug Martsch surface effortlessly from each song and new lyrics seep in to your head with every spin of the disc.
With this composition of up-tempo alternative rock elements, mild melodies, and cascading instrumentation, the band makes their music accessible to folks from all angles, hipsters to hippies. The uplifting song “Planting Seeds” succeeds in doing just as it’s named. Its tendrils grab hold of you with guitar riffs, licks, and drums. Its lyrics challenge your brain with supple, yet subtle commentary on how modern society tries to shape the growth of your mind.
The slide guitar and dueling melodies on “Good Ol’ Boredom” help fuel the fun ride throughout this extended track. “Done” begins and ends as a trippy seven-minute, slow motion journey through an audible landscape of vague shapes and splattered colors. Guided by shadowy vocals echoing over one another, the song occasionally approaches some semblance of a chorus, which seems soaked with palpable regret.
“Life’s a Dream” and “Hindsight” both resonate beautifully, but each for different reasons. The former is a peaceful trip through the clouds that dances and soars from one fret board to the next with impossible ease and inspired timing. The latter is an optimistic glance in the rear view mirror with your bags packed for a weekend getaway and plenty of time ahead for soulful reflection on all the reasons for leaving.
Best enjoyed on a road trip with close company or served chilled over ice with a glass of your favorite spirits, the sonic ebb and flow of the song placement carry the album in comfortable fashion. Parched fans will want to make sure they don’t leave this one out of their collection. Even the keenest of ears will be hard pressed to label just one song with the word “favorite.” Those just getting an introduction will no doubt be inspired to check out some of their previous volumes. Once you get to know There Is No Enemy, you’ll most certainly be compelled to lend a copy to a friend.