Perfect from Now On

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Perfect from Now On
Studio album by Built to Spill
Released January 28, 1997 (1997-01-28)
Genre Indie rock
Length 54:13
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Phil Ek
Built to Spill chronology
There's Nothing Wrong with Love
Perfect from Now On
Keep It Like a Secret
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (9.2/10) [2]
Robert Christgau B+[3]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[4]
Tiny Mix Tapes 5/5[5]

Perfect from Now On is the third full-length album released by Built to Spill, and the band's first major label (Warner Bros.) release. The line-up for the album was singer/guitarist Doug Martsch, bassist Brett Nelson, and drummer Scott Plouf. It was recorded at the Avast! Recording Company in Seattle, Washington by Phil Ek. Stylistically, the album was marked by its experimentation with longer song structures, philosophical lyrics, and the incorporation of cello.

The album was essentially recorded three times. The first time, Martsch attempted to play all the instruments except drums. He and Phil Ek were dissatisfied with the results, so Martsch brought in Nelson and Plouf and recorded the album again. However, these tapes were destroyed by heat when Ek was driving from Seattle to Boise to record additional overdubs. The band rehearsed some more, then recorded the album a third time.

In September 2008, the band embarked on a three-month tour to perform the album in its entirety.[6]

The tracks on the album are (in general) significantly longer than those on There's Nothing Wrong With Love, the shortest track being 4 minutes and 52 seconds long (only 2 tracks on their previous album were longer than 4:52).

Music, lyrics and instrumentation[edit]

The 1960s-influenced lead track, "Randy Described Eternity", begins with a "droney guitar" that builds toward "slow trodding psychedelic" rock,[7] with the lyrics comprising a "free-verse exploration of one man's quest to grasp the infinite",[8] a "battle against postmodernity"[9] with "melodic grandeur".[10] According to a 2008 interview with Martsch, the song's lyrics draw upon a metaphor for eternity, explained to him by a professor in college, as the whittling down of a metal sphere ("ten times the size of Jupiter … to the size of a pea") with only a feather.[11]

"I Would Hurt a Fly" addresses the sensation of an object of desire primarily through sound,[12] with the refrain "I can't get that sound you make out of my head/ I can't even figure out what's making it". Following "one of the most amazing lead parts ever performed" on cello,[13] the song shifts from the first half's "jittery rock to haunting chamber pop" in the second, ending with "guitar distortion and propulsive drums".[14]

"Stop the Show" gradually moves from a "hazy and hypnotic introduction of slow bending guitar notes and softly humming cellos to a feedback-drenched explosion of power chords and cymbals".[8] Beginning with an "eerie atmosphere fleshed out by textures of cello, reverb and Moog synths",[14] the song shifts in its first third to an "intense guitar and drum buildup" with "sudden tempo shifts",[1] becoming a "feedback-drenched explosion of power chords and cymbals", evoking "both Lennon-McCartney and Moore-Ranaldo in equal measure".[8]

The introduction of "Made-Up Dreams"—whose lyrics meditate on the invented word "dryology"[15]—is "self-consciously lo-fi", giving way early to "concise" rock with an "elephantine guitar drone"[16] with Moog and acoustic guitar[8] that's "sprawling, abstract" and "dreamy".[15] "Velvet Waltz", described as "pure musical catharsis" and the album's "climactic centerpiece", features "cresting waves of guitars, sad and distant cellos",[8] with Martsch’s vocals recalling Brian Wilson,[10] "insistent and impassioned".[8] "Out of Site" begins with a simple acoustic guitar line before it "explodes" to the band's full sound, again incorporating cello[7] in an "off-key blues wail"[17] that "dips and swoops and lingers in bitterness" and sounds of "instant nostalgia".[17] The penultimate track, the "soulful and pensive"[8] "Kicked it in the Sun", reaches a "climax of good feeling" in its first minute" with quirky, sad "emotional implications".[18]

"Untrustable / Part 2 (About Someone Else)", the album's nearly nine-minute closer, is a "demand to explain yourself"[19]—whose "churning, oceanic ode to the relative nature of the divine" includes the repeated "angrily shouted"[12] phrase "And God is whomever you perform for"[8]—is a "series of seamlessly linked songs within a song"[19] finally "tumbling into a warehouse full of clocks and wind chimes".[4]


Perfect from Now On was released to widespread critical acclaim and is widely regarded as an indie rock masterpiece as well as Built to Spill's magnum opus. ranked this album at #22 on its "Top 100 Albums of the 90s" list. The album, along with 1999's Keep It Like a Secret, is frequently cited as one of the greatest indie rock albums of all time, and has come to influence many modern alternative, rock, and indie acts. [20]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Randy Described Eternity" – 6:09
  2. "I Would Hurt a Fly" – 6:15
  3. "Stop the Show" – 6:26
  4. "Made-Up Dreams" – 4:52
  5. "Velvet Waltz" – 8:33
  6. "Out of Site" – 5:33
  7. "Kicked It in the Sun" – 7:32
  8. "Untrustable / Part 2 (About Someone Else)" – 8:53

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Brett Netson - guitar on "Randy Described Eternity," "I Would Hurt a Fly," "Stop the Show," "Velvet Waltz," and "Out of Site"
  • John McMahon - cello on "I Would Hurt a Fly," "Stop the Show," "Velvet Waltz," "Out of Site," and "Untrustable/Pt. 2 (About Someone Else)"
  • Robert Roth - Mellotron on "Made-Up Dreams," "Velvet Waltz," and "Untrustable/Pt. 2 (About Someone Else)"
  • Peter Lansdowne - drums on "Made-Up Dreams


Rapper Cage's song "Ballad of Worms" sampled "I Would Hurt a Fly". The song appeared on Eastern Conference All-Stars, Vol. 3 and Purple Rain Mix CD Vol. 1


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "Perfect from Now On – Built to Spill : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. AllRovi. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Record Reviews: Built to Spill: Perfect From Now On". 2000-09-30. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Built to Spill". Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Kot, Greg (November 9, 1998). "Perfect from Now On review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Built to Spill – Perfect from Now On | Music Review | Tiny Mix Tapes". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ Skruck, Jeff (May 20, 2008). "Built to Spill to Play Perfect from Now On This Fall on Tour | Prefix". Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Jared W. Dillon (May 7, 2006). "Built To Spill - Perfect From Now On". Sputnik. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Robert Alford (December 12, 2012). "Perfect Twenty Years On: Ranking the Built to Spill Records". PopMatters. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  9. ^ David Shields (September 4–10, 2008). "Perfect Sound Forever". The Stranger. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Critical Acclaim; Our Favorite Films and Albums of 1997". The Washington Post. January 2, 1998. 
  11. ^ Marty Garner (February 14, 2008). "Doug Martsch talks about Neil Young, reggae and Built to Spill’s potential". Antigravity Magazine. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Neil Strauss (February 2, 1997). "60's-Style Heroics for the 90's". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Chip Copeland (January 22, 2011). "Rewind Listen: Built to Spill – Perfect From Now On". Sock Monkey Sound. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Libra (February 7, 2012). "Built to Spill - Perfect from Now On (1997)". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Brendan Kiley (September 4–10, 2008). "Perfect Sound Forever". The Stranger. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Bill Eichenberger (February 13, 1997). "'Spill' album builds in nice surprises". Columbus Dispatch. 
  17. ^ a b Everett True (September 4–10, 2008). "Perfect Sound Forever". The Stranger. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  18. ^ Tao Lin (September 4–10, 2008). "Perfect Sound Forever". The Stranger. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Kathleen Wilson (September 4–10, 2008). "Perfect Sound Forever". The Stranger. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  20. ^ Morris, William (November 17, 2003). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1990s | Features | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 

External links[edit]