Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
There's Nothing Wrong with Love
I get to do Built to Spill because someone (hey, Scotty!) joked about my column, "What's next? Built to Spill? Hahahahaha..." and then his face realized that I really had never heard those guys. He marveled for a second, laughed again, and said I had to put 'em on the list. So here I am!
I'm sitting in a public place, listening to There's Nothing Wrong with Love. I have one hour to tell you about it—I'm setting a timer. Ready, set, go!
First off is "In the Morning." It sounds like the '90s love you back, like the weather right before good weather, like a bunch of friends in one bedroom laughing. The song ends abruptly, as if someone tripped over the power cord and unplugged the music.
Next comes "Reasons," which is slower but still golden; you can languish inside of it, smiling. I like these subtler rock harmonies—these days, harmonies are always full-throated and five-part and backed by a string band in a forest, which is all fine and good but not the only way to layer voices.
"Big Dipper" loves dinosaurs and stars. "Car" is a love whine, a date with someone you made up in your head. Short little "Fling" has a sweet violin, and "Cleo" starts with seconds of cymbals and lazes into lyrics about "wiggly days, wiggly nights," which you understand implicitly. Each note and word is on purpose.
This music is young, and in a style I don't really hear anymore—so straightforward and hopeful and simple, but well constructed. Like smart suburban kids rocking out, like having a good relationship with your parents and still being cool, like hot toast with jam and cartoons on a day you're off from school. I forgot that this was what a lot of rock sounded like back when I was a baby teenager—Weezer and crying and short flowered dresses and Doc Martens and writing on your skin with Sharpies. It's complex in its simplicity, the rhythm of the songs and of the whole album, too. Its momentum takes you through it in a clean way.
Closer to the end, "Distopian Dream Girl" is a jam. A Ferris wheel of David Bowie love and hating your stepdad and an offer of dying to save the girl you love. I hadn't realized it until this song, but the fantasy of sacrificing yourself to save your teenage crush must be universal—I died a thousand times at 12 or 13, at the hands of imagined robbers, Nazis, bad guys at night. (This was before "terrorists.") "Take me instead," teen me cried in anguish.
Love closes with a song called "Preview," a fake sneak preview of "the next Built to Spill album!" It's a minute or so of 10- second snippets, a bunch of jokes.
Built to Spill are a bunch of white guys in dorky shoes. But they're my white guys in dorky shoes, y'know?
I give this a "teenage bedrooms and lazy days" out of 10.