Built to Spill


Song Review by

The song "Car" was issued as a limited edition single, lifted from Built to Spill's excellent second album, There's Nothing Wrong With Love. Eschewing traditional song structure, this track ditches the predictable repeated verse/chorus formula in favor of a linear arrangement, moving from a soft ballad into slow rocker, eventually building to a mini-anthem of sorts. Built to Spill mastermind Doug Martsch waxes poetic, capturing a sense of wonder as he sets off with a companion to explore the larger world around them, attempting to glean some measure of meaning while cementing a bond between them in the process.

Low-toned bass and guitar intertwine in a meandering riff as Martsch's light and smooth vocals start in immediately, floating above the music with a tender-hearted sincerity, "You get the car/I'll get the night, off/You'll get the chance to take the world apart and figure out how it works/Don't let me know what you find out." Old school synthesizer whirs in support of the second half of the verse, "I need a car/You need a guide/Who needs a map/If I don't die or worse I'm gonna need a nap/At best I'll be asleep when you get back." Guitars firm up, strumming to the slow pulse of a naked whack of bass drum and snare as the track begins to pick up steam. Martsch's voice is stripped down, becoming more strained and direct, the flow of words quickening as he demands in each line, "I wanna see it/I wanna see it now." The track veers into a dark interlude with deep cello adding somber downward notes against the supersaturated buzzing of low distorted guitar. The atmosphere lightens as the arrangement returns to a flowing second take on the opening verse, the sound floating on the slow sweep of cello and a steady wash of cymbal while Martsch harps on a single line, which becomes a kind of infectious mantra through repetition, "I wanna see movies of my dreams/I wanna see movies of my dreams." The sound subtly begins to build into a rising anthem; an uplifting guitar solo is set to a driving rhythm of clean guitars and marching cello lines that draw the track to a close.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
There's Nothing Wrong with Love 1994 Up 2:59
American Pie, Vol. 2: I Can't Hear You (Again) 1996
Various Artists
Rubber Records 2:58
The Normal Years 1996 K Records 3:07