‘Nowhere Lullaby’ asks “Has it been that long? Where’s the time and the table gone?” Indeed, Built to Spill have now been around for 17 years and There Is No Enemy marks their seventh proper album. Keeping relevant after so long is no easy task, yet the band continues to produce music that’s worth listening to. They even keep up with the hit songs of today. M.I.A. covers aside, There Is No Enemy confronts the fact that time has passed and some doors are closed.
‘Hindsight’ is both the album’s first single and strongest track. Whereas There’s Nothing Wrong With Love’s ‘Car’ was a youthful anthem filled with possibilities, desires, and new experiences, ‘Hindsight’ addresses the recurring themes on Enemy: the malaise of day-to-day life, disillusionment and growing older. Bitter thoughts like wondering if “the grass is only greener because it’s fake” emerge here, illustrating the sense of frustration prevalent throughout the album. In one of the more amusing moments, moving to Canada is brought up as a solution to the lingering depression. ‘Aisle 13’ takes a less jaded look at the drudgery of the 9 to 5 shift, as the subject has someone to go home to by the end of the day. ‘Things Fall Apart’, on the other hand, is likely the album’s darkest moment, perfectly capturing the lonely and empty feelings of a relationship gone awry. Doug Martsch isn’t afraid to delve into some uncomfortable subject matter. The latter half of the album is filled with extended songs upwards in length of six minutes that give the words time to sink in.
There Is No Enemy is filled to the brim with nostalgia, longing, and a particular sort of weariness. While the mood of the album is generally somber and the subject matter is sometimes outright depressing, you get a sense of strength and persistence, although supplemented with some bitterness. Built to Spill are showing their age, but they are wearing it well. As a final aside, I have no idea how this managed to get an explicit lyrics sticker on the cover.
Tags: Built to Spill