Despite the inflated reputation of 1999's Keep It Like a Secret, it's obvious Built to Spill has never made the perfect Built to Spill record. If anything, the band's Pavement-meets-Phish take on jammy indie rock is universally agreed to be best realized in concert, and has been remarkably consistent, though never transcendent, through their first six studio records. The seventh, There Is No Enemy, finds the Idaho band fronted by unlikely guitar god Doug Martsch again paring gooey Dinosaur Jr. riffs with the wispy vocals you expect from the Northwest. Unlike, say, Ancient Melodies of the Future's brilliant closer "The Weather," there's no foray into folk here, but the slow burn of "Nowhere Lullaby" and the Frampton-esque opening to the epic "Good Ol' Boredom," gives all the variety you need — and all the variety you'd get from a show by this lean and mean act, which goes roadie-less and without exotically tuned or acoustic instruments. The Westerberg pulse of "Pat" and the creepy cornfield vibe of "Oh Yeah" also flesh things out, switching up the terrain enough to keep things interesting for 55 minutes. Maybe that's why Enemy feels a little like the mid- to late-period live album the band should have released by now, and why it's probably the most complete Built to Spill record to date. Is There Is No Enemy Martsch's masterpiece? Not necessarily, but it's closer than at least five of his six other Built to Spill albums.
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