Built to Spill’s long, strange trip — six proper albums in 17 years, the last five for major label biggies Warner Bros. — reached an apex of sorts in July when the Boise, Idaho-based band agreed to take part in the Pitchfork Music Festival’s “Write the Night” in Chicago. The fan-friendly experiment allowed festival attendees to craft the band’s set list, much of which featured tunes from BTS’ prime-era doubleheader of Perfect from Now On (1997) and Keep It Like a Secret (1999).
It was a slightly surreal sight, as much of the crowd mouthed along with impressively bearded frontguy Doug Martsch’s high whine of a singing voice and vague but oddly universal lyrical concerns. It was the kind of communal experience rare in our fractured musical landscape, an impressive feat for a band that could give a tweet about current trends or typical modes of operation.
BTS’ latest album, There Is No Enemy, is more laid back than 2006’s hiatus-busting You in Reverse: “Nowhere Lullaby,” which glides by via lush strings and reverberating guitars, sounds like a band staring into the abyss of adulthood — both as a musical unit and, you know, in real life. Yet one song later the aptly titled “Goodbye Ol’ Boredom” comes its buoyant counterpart, a blast of riff-happy guitars and shimmering keyboards that conjures Grandaddy channeled through the graceful grit of Crazy Horse.
Keep spillin’, guys.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)