on July 5, 2001
What other artist, after signing a major label deal toward which he had presumably worked his whole life ,would record THIS album? Who else but Doug (Dug) Martsch? I know Built to Spill is a band, but I've always seen Dug as a kind of Brian Wilson character. That said, this album is like his "Pet Sounds". The genius of this band is the ability to craft a 3-minute hook-laden pop song, dream up some of the most inventive and wildly original arrangements, play those intricate arrangements using only basic rock instrumentation, and then stretch that song out to its logical or illogical conclusions. 8-minute songs are usually boring. These 8-minute songs aren't. There are vey few bands that manage to sound original or distinctive with just a bass-guitar-drums line-up. Sure, BTS add the occasional strings or keyboards, but at its core, it's a guitar-rock band. Instead of using an orchestra, theremin, movie projectors, vibes, etc. a la Flaming Lips, Dug uses his guitar to create the sounds, tones, and moods needed for the arrangements. When you hear Dug referred to as a "guitar god", don't fear. You are not in for mechanical, "technical" or "fast" playing. Dug's genius is his ability to use the guitar as his own private orchestra, and to use those sounds and textures in service of the songs. He has an utterly distinctive tone, but also is able to shape-change into whatever kind of player the songs calls for. He's a guitar chameleon, and there aren't many guitarists you can say that about. He can muster everything from heartbreakingly lyrical passages to storming walls of sound and stop at all points between. Just listen to the first track "Randy Described Eternity". Much like the best Flaming Lips work, it uses odd-ball lyrics juxtaposed with transcendent music and ultimately builds to an emotional climax that defies logic or explanation. Just like you might wonder, whilst listening to "Clouds Taste Metallic": 'How can a song about a giraffe have an emotional effect on me?', you'll find yourself puzzled at how a song that begins with a description of a huge shimmering sphere can raise goosebumps in your heart. To me, that perfectly encapsulates the perfect paradox that is Built to Spill, The Flaming Lips, and great music in general: The existence of both the ridiculous and sublime in the same place at the same time.
on July 13, 2004
Anti-pop melodies. 6+ minute epics. Borderline violent transformations in mid-song that come out of nowhere. Sounds dubious, right?
Well, if you want to be grabbed into a song on first listen by simple pop vocal lines and clearly defined guitar riffs, this won't be for you. If you're looking for a little substance, this is definitely for you. Upon subsequent listenings, you will hear and appreciate the double helix-like guitar riffs, interweaving into each other and away from each other, the balance between the ethereal tenor voice of Doug and the throbbing guitars, you will hear it what it is: Music, Rock Music, done about as well as it can possibly be done. Innovative, challenging, complex.
Hurt a Fly is probably the most known song on the album, as it made rounds on college rock stations across the nation. The use of strings to back up Doug's speed riff harmonies at the end of the song is one of the most exciting pieces I've heard in rock. Stop the Show is probably my second favorite song, one that grows on you once the overlapping guitars sink in. Untrustable, which ends the album, is hypnotic and rewarding, an example of the album as a whole. This is one of those albums that you'll be listening to for years...if you are patient.
on July 25, 2001
If you've landed here because you know BTS well, then skip this review. If, on the other hand, you're here because an Amazon link piqued your interest, then let me help you out. I landed here a while back because I bought the Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin". I have since listened to all the BTS records. Choosing where to start (and stop) in my mind is easy. Perfect is the album to buy - it is far and away the best this band has ever created and it is a minor late 90s masterpiece, certainly on par with the Soft Bulletin. Each of the songs on Perfect takes you on a mini musical journey, starting with one melody and transitioning to one or more others over the course of 5-8 minutes. The sound is intense and epic. Their other albums are nowhere near as accomplished. Like the Lips, BTS mined the short, alternative (i.e., loose, twangy, Pavement-like) sound of early 90s rock on earlier albums, like There's Nothing Wrong, and again on Keep It Like A Secret and the new Ancient Melodies. No doubt about it, Carry the Zero, The Weather, In the Morning, Reasons and Big Dipper are great songs, but compared to I Would Hurt or Out of Site off Perfect, they pale. Highly recommended.
on March 28, 2001
if you asked most fans of built to spill what their favorite album was by them, it would most likely be a very close race between "there's nothing wrong with love", "keep it like a secret", and this album, "perfect from now on". personally though, i have to lean towards this one, which also happened to be my introduction to the great band that is built to spill...
i still remember the day i purchased this album. i went looking for it on the basis of one song, "i would hurt a fly". since i had only heard that one song i went all around the city of omaha trying to find it used for a cheap price, to no avail. in the last record store i approached before i started my drive home, i decided to take my chances and shell out nearly ... bucks to get it new...
so i popped it in as soon as me and my friend got into my car. about 30 seconds into "randy described eternity" i got bored and said "i want to listen to the song i downloaded"...so i skipped ahead to "i would hurt a fly", and listened to it, thinking "wow, what a great tune". i then let the cd run into the next song...and again got bored after no more than a minute. i proceeded to do the same thing with the rest of the album, until i took the cd out in frustration thinking "what a waste of ... dollars..." and put in some other album i purchased that day (which i don't remember anymore).
what a foolish thing to do. about two weeks later while sitting at home, i pulled this disc out, still basically unplayed except for "i would hurt a fly". i finally sat there and listened to the whole thing, and after it was over i thought "this isn't nearly as bad as i first thought". days later i would be humming a song to myself and realize it was a different song on this album. i would go back home and listen, thinking "hey, this is a great tune too". this happened with a different song every few days.
i began listening to the album even more, and began liking it more and more with every listen. i began listening to it religiously. i realized it was one of the best albums i had bought in months. then i realized it was one of the best i've bought in my lifetime. i then bought all the other releases by built to spill and was stunned with each one. i now call them the best american rock band around without regret.
if you own any other built to spill releases, this is a must buy. if you don't, "keep it like a secret" or "there's nothing wrong with love" might be a better starting point...but this would not be a mistake as long as you have patience. getting into this album was one of the most rewarding musical experiences of my lifetime.
on September 27, 2001
This album is very difficult to describe, because words alone cannot communicate the power of the music. I'll give it my best shot........
I have heard a lot of music where I've wondered to myself, "Wow! how in the world did this sound climb to such an impossible place?" These are bands like Phish, The Grateful Dead, Moe, Percy Hill, Blind Man's Sun, Medeski Martin & Wood, or even Jimmy Hendrix. Although delightful to my hear, these artists always seem to leave me feeling empty inside, with no long-lasting feeling of satisfaction from the music.
I have also heard a lot of music where I've wondered to myself, "Wow! How in the world did these lyrics climb to such an impossible place?" These are artists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Freedy Johnston, and Lou Reed, just to name a few. Although these artists always seem to have a message with each of their songs, precious few of these songs actually had an impressive quality of sound as well.
"Perfect From Now On" is that unbelievably rare album that climbs to the highest peaks of your soul, both musically AND lyrically. At at least one point in every song, I wonder to myself, "Wow! How in the world is this happening? How did the song come to this point? How did they get here? It is IMPOSSIBLE for music to hit home like this. THIS is how I feel. THIS is what I've been afraid to talk about. THIS is it. I'm home." Then the song is over, and the next journey starts.
Each of the eight songs on this album is a dynamic blend of wailing guitars, unique bass lines, and progressive rythms. At the same time, each song produces deep emotion, and a profound message about human existence.
I just went to see BTS for the first time in NYC last weekend. Folks.........they are the REAL DEAL! No frills, no gimmicks, and no crap. Just a band that really cares about their music, and the impact it has on their audience. A rarity nowadays, to say the least.
Just for camparison's sake, here are the only albums I've ever heard that can even hold a candle to "Perfect From Now On":
(Again, this is only my opinion.)
"Animals, Darkside of the Moon" - Pink Floyd
"OK Computer, The Bends" - Radiohead
"Revolver, Rubber Soul" - The Beatles
"Keep it Like a Secret" - Built to Spill
(yes, they have another beauty)
on September 10, 2004
1997's Perfect From Now On, Built to Spill's 3rd full album, marks a major departure from their previous album "There's Nothing Wrong with Love". Both albums are deeply emotional; however, if "Nothing Wrong" is a journal entry after a successful first date, full of hope and enthusiasm, then "Perfect From Now On" is that same journal 9 months later, crumpled up, slightly burned, and left dejected in the trash. Songs like "I Would Hurt A Fly" and "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)" speak of betrayal and heartbreak, lost love and identity. The most significant differences between this album and "Theres Nothings Wrong With Love" are structures of the songs. "Perfect From Now On" contains eight lengthy tracks that flow in and out of various melodies, conveying the shattered emotional state of the songwriter whose thoughts are both scattered and focused, a musical expression of anger and loss. And one hell of a listen on top of it.
on September 27, 2002
What can I say that has not been previously been said? I know my fairly recent discovery of Built to Spill will have a huge impact on the way I view music. And this album, definitely Doug Martsch's greatest creation, is brilliantly constructed. There are no words I can use to describe its greatness. It took a while for it to sink in. I'll be honest... It was somewhat dull to me at first. There's Nothing Wrong With Love was the album that got me hooked. But I decided to listen to Perfect From Now On a few more times... to give it another chance. And its amazingness hit me. I was blown away. Doug Martsch is a true genius. The songs are all in themselves amazing pieces of musical artwork. But the album as a whole flows beautifully from start to finish.
It starts out with a pretty slow song with great guitar work and interesting lyrics. This long song has an eerie, dramatic feel to it. And Doug's vocals here are some of his best. Next is I Would Hurt a Fly. One of my favorite Built to Spill songs of all. The change in tempo at the end during the solo is great. Stop the Show is the song that stands out the most at first. It's what kept me listening to the album... hoping the other songs would catch me as well. They did eventually. Anyway, don't let the long slow start fool you. This song explodes into utter amazingness. The simple guitar riffs reminiscent of Big Dipper are very good here. Made Up Dreams is one of the last songs I was hooked on. A nice keyboard kicks in about a third of the way through and adds a lot of substance to the song. Velvet Waltz has latley been one of my favorite songs. Just the slow build up from the start to the epic guitar solo. Another great song. Out of site has some really interesting lyrics. It's one of the shorter songs on the album. Parts of the song are louder & more upbeat, which presents a good contrast. It fades out, and begins Kicked it in the Sun. My favorite Built to Spill Song and one of my favorites of all time. It starts out pretty slow and serene.. but has a sudden tempo change (A very common thing on this album) in the middle. The song from then on gets only better. You would have to give this song a few listens to truly understand its greatness. I cannot express it in words. The final song, Untrustable, is another epic one. Nearly 9 minutes long. Yet it keeps my interest throughout. The final minute and a half is the best part, and a perfect closing to a perfect album.
As someone stated in a previous review... If you are new to Built to Spill, check out There's Nothing Wrong With Love first, and then move to this. And give it some time. I did, and now it has changed my outlook on music forever.
on October 18, 2005
This album was the first Built To Spill album I bought, and it's still the best after all this time. What's great about this album, moreso than the other Built To Spill albums, the thing they do differently on this one, is consistently branch out and extend songs and song structure. There is a pop/rock (radio playability?) sensibility to all of Built To Spill's music, I think. On this album especially, they take that sound and transform something that's very listenable and easy to appreciate into something that reveals its complexity more and more each time. It's not just fun to listen to, the more you listen to it the more you appreciate the inspired arrangements and lyrics.
Really, I like all the songs on this album, from start to finish, and I can't pick out a single moment that this album lulls or fails for me. "Randy Described Eternity" a mellow space jam that speaks about (you guessed it) eternity with a great analogy to time and infinity. Really smart stuff so far. Also outstanding is "Stop The Show" a song that transforms from a slow jam in the first half to a bouncy rocker with angular guitar chops in the second half, with a nice "chugging train" transition between the halves. A third favorite of mine on this album is "Kicked It in the Sun," again, like two songs stuck together in an extended structure that really works.
What stands out for me the most is that on each and every song, there is a guitar bit that I remember, that etches itself into my mind, and I really anticipate hearing those little bits during each song, which I think is a sign of strong craft. Also, each and every song has a lyric that burns itself into my memory, showing me a new way to look at the things around me. This album succeeds as entertainment, to be sure, but also as art.
As for the actual sound, I don't know how to describe it, I think Doug Martsch seems informed by a number of classic rock styles, he's definitely got the same flair for layering guitars that Jimmy Page had, he's got a kind of Verlaine-esque intellect about his solos, and a definite contemporary indie-rock sensibility, maybe rooted in the Pixies. I can tell you, however, that I like Pavement, Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse, and some others that have been compared to Built To Spill, and while I don't find a lot of similarities in sound, I would think that fans of the aforementioned bands would really enjoy Built To Spill in general, and this album especially.
on December 20, 2004
This album is truly great. They sound like a mix b/t Pavement, Sonic Youth, and Modest Mouse. Which is great! Some complain about the lengths of the songs, but I never get a sense of boredom while listening to it. If you are interested in any of the bands I mentioned, then I would definately purchase this CD. A great buy!
on April 26, 2006
I can't believe it took me until 2006 to discover Built to Spill...It only took one listen to their earlier release "There's Nothing Wrong With Love" to decide that I'll be spending the rest of the year catching up on all their music. For the moment, I can't stop playing this CD.