The 15 Best Built to Spill Songs

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8. “Made Up Dreams”
Perfect From Now On
Martsch’s voice is in rare form here, squawking and cawing without respite. It’s a true showcase of his range: in one bar his voice borders on absurd, and in the next it’s crooning a haunting melody.

7. “Aisle 13”
There Is No Enemy
On the heels of a muffled bass line and a drawn-out guitar squeal, “Aisle 13” collects itself and takes shape as a catchy, capable opening track to There Is No Enemy. Shimmering guitar accompany a poetic take on the mind’s mysterious inner workings. The song’s lyrical capstone: “one day I come home to find you/covered in ants because you’re so sweet.”

6. “Cortez The Killer”
The guitar work in this Neil Young classic lends itself to Martsch’s style so well, fans born in the ’80s or afterward might mistake the cover as a Built to Spill original.

5. “Distopian Dream Girl”
There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
Angsty and opinionated, our narrator bemoans his step-father and lauds David Bowie’s late-’70s output. The song is a four-and-a-half-minute lark with a perfectly-arranged percussion section.

4. “Three Years Ago Today”
Ultimate Alternative Wavers
The second song on Built to Spill’s first album, “Three Years Ago Today” sets a precedent that endures today. Brash guitar lines and sloppy arrangements with hidden brilliance are introduced with gusto, and show no signs of retreat 21 years later.

3. “Car”
There’s Nothing Wrong With Love
For many, “Car” functions as Built to Spill’s apex, a paragon of inventive guitar parts and pensive lyrics. Martsch address his favorite subject, dreams—“I want to see movies of my dreams,” he bellows—before the interlude gives way to the second-best guitar solo on this list.

2. “Center of the Universe”
Keep It Like A Secret
The opening riff begins slinky and ends, somehow, with a Western flair. The chorus-laden guitar work is the song’s highlight, followed closely by the backing vocal track.

1. “Strange”
Ancient Melodies of the Future
The best of Built of Spill’s oeuvre lays in the ’90s, when they hobnobbed with fellow indie luminaries like Pavement and Sonic Youth. So to name a song released in the new millennium as their best may seem sacrilege. Nonetheless: “Strange” is impeccable from start to finish, from the perfectly-engineered drums to the whimsical synth overlays. The song reaches its zenith at the 2:58 mark, when Martsch’s guitar first mirrors the vocal melody, and then lurches into a realm of bends, slides and kinks.

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