1994 was a time when alternative music showed its dominance on television and radio. College rock was pretty much the norm and a certain music channel showcased sometimes brilliant music videos and their accompanying artists. Of course, I was a bit too young to get interested fully, but the music of the time did grasp my awareness and a certain band named Built to Spill was one of the many.
It was during that same year that the band released their sophomore album, There's Nothing Wrong with Love, which was the followup to their debut, 1993's Ultimate Alternative Wavers. If you dig through this bands discography, you'll notice a dramatic change in style and substance, but not in emotion and tenderness. In the later years, the songs BtS have created are more complex and bulging, but it's here on this album where everything is just about perfect. Clocking in just over the 45-minute mark and bolstering 13 tracks, TNWwL comes off as short and sweet despite its length and design.
Indie acts of past times like Guided by Voices, Pavement, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. have bridged the gaps between genres and helped usher in today's almost organic-minded approach to music making. BtS did this too, and this album is their definition of that. Opening song "In the Morning" plucks by with twinkly chords and lead singer Doug Martsch sings with his twangy yelp that reminds me of Wayne Coyne of Flaming Lips fame. The song goes through its motions until it hits its high point and the indie riffs break through to some awesome distortion in lo-fi quality noise.
Another highlight of the album is track two, "Reasons", which always manages to blow me away with its dual approach of simplicity yet complex rhythms and lyrical content. Track four and fan favorite, "Car" is Indie/Emo 101. Not saying that these guys should be lumped in with that whole scene, but there is no mistaking the strong connections. Listening to the song, I can sense the desperation and youth-filled eagerness that comes from Martsch's lyrics and singing. With words like, "I want to see movies of my dreams. / I want to see it now", you can't help but agree with the pleading. And then there is track five, and personal favorite, "Fling". This little acoustic number just grabs hold of you and leads the way. The cello, like in the previous song, is once again used here and it adds this other dynamic that wraps itself around the listener and gives off a sense of calm and wonder. Not to be totally cheesy, but this is really good stuff, and any fan of current acts like Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and Broken Social Scene would find solace here when the time is right.
The following year, BtS would tour on Lollapalooza '95 and gain national exposure, which lead to them to be held up in high regards and garner many rave reviews and fans across the globe. Their next album, the incredible Perfect from Now On would change it up a bit, but not deviate too far from their more easier rockin' days. Built to Spill is a great band that everyone should give a chance with, and there is no better place to start than right here. Dig it.
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