Built To Spill – The Normal Years

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

Doug Martsch gives off this slightly scary woodsman vibe, with his long beard, bare pate, Pacific Northwest origins, and apparent extreme social reticence. Which is totally unfair. And in the end, I’m not hiring him as a babysitter – what matters is that he writes excellent songs and plays the hell out of the guitar, and I am not even that impressed by guitar playing in the first instance. You keep doing that shit, Doug.

What I Think of This Album

A hodgepodge of singles, random tracks, and unreleased material, this is another of those albums that by any sober calculus I should get rid of. But sober calculation fucking sucks. Not that raw emotion ever proved to be a better compass, but fuck it . . . there is something more poetic about following your heart even if you know it doesn’t make sense.

There are only five songs here that are worth a damn, and one of them is already on There’s Nothing Wrong With Love in far superior form. The cover of Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair’s “Some Things Last a Long Time” is mesmerizing and beautiful. “Girl” is a great little pop tune, with a knotted solo, and a romantic streak a mile wide. Self-deprecating “Joyride” is really fun, with a fuzzy guitar line, hilariously bad backing vocals, and goofy lyrics. Beyond that, there is some interesting six-string work on “Sick & Wrong,” which starts out spindly and spidery and then becomes fuzzy and groovy. The single version of “Car” is less polished than the album version on Nothing Wrong, lacking cello and without a lot of the guitar parts, and also maybe a touch slower. Even in this infant form, it’s a great song. The rest is forgettable, though “Still Flat” has a trombone on it, so that’s cool.

This was released on K Records, and Calvin Johnson (who partners with Doug Martsch in the excellent Halo Benders) recorded some of the tracks; Phil Ek recorded just one.

The Best Thing About This Album

I hate to choose a cover because it sends the wrong message, but the version of “Some Things Last a Long Time” is amazing.

Release Date

April, 1996

The Cover Art

This is a cool cover.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑