The Normal Years strings together Built to Spill's loose ends: outtakes from each of the band's first two albums, three independently released singles, and two tracks recorded for compilations. Given bandleader Doug Martsch's penchant for exquisite production and extensive arranging on his later albums, this mix-and-match release is certainly the least desirable full-length the band released. The sound is sparse, and Martsch is still learning the intricacies of his craft. But the innocence in songs like "Girl" and "Joyride" is an aural treat, and The Normal Years works as a good illustration of Built to Spill's humble beginnings.
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AllMusic Review by Troy Carpenter