When you look back on your life, there are likely bands and albums that had a huge impact on you at an early age. I’m not just talking about those from childhood; I’m talking about those as you moved through your teenage and high school years.
If I look at my early high school days, it was my introduction to alternative rock of the mid 90s. The release of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness were monumental in my individual musical development, as were a handful of albums by Soundgarden, and the first few Radiohead albums.
As we moved into the late 90s, my explorations took a turn for something a little more out there. Radiohead truly began their experimentation with OK Computer, and then there was my discovery of Perfect from Now On (1996) by Built to Spill. I was OBSESSED with this album when I discovered it in 1997, and that obsession continues to this day.
Furthermore, the band’s 1998 LP Keep it Like a Secret was my first official foray into purchasing vinyl records. So Built to Spill holds a revered spot in my personal music journey. Now let’s fast forward to 2022.
A Look at When the Wind Forgets Your Name
Built to Spill formed in 1992. Hailing from Boise Idaho, frontman Doug Martsch has worked alongside Calvin Johnson of K Records in their Halo Benders band in the 90s. He’s always fit the more underground Pacific Northwest sound, but Built to Spill never landed a studio LP on the label that seemed to mesh so well with their music: Sub Pop.
Never until now that is.
“I’m psyched: I’ve wanted to be on Sub Pop since I was a teenager. And I think I’m the first fifty year-old they’ve ever signed.”Doug Martsch, Sub Pop (2022)
When the Wind Forgets Your Name is the band’s first studio album since 2015’s Untethered Moon. Long overdue, if you ask me. But digging into the album in the first two months since its release, I’m happy to say that it was well worth the wait! I’ll dig more into my specific thoughts on the album and the songs on it after we take a quick look at the LOSER Edition.
Unboxing the Sub Pop Vinyl LOSER Edition
Before jumping into my Unboxing of the Sub Pop LOSER Edition released in the US, let’s take a look at the early versions of the album.
There were five unique vinyl versions dropped within the first few months of the album’s official September 9, 2022 release. Sub Pop has separate releases for the US and the Europe/UK market, so both received a limited LOSER edition and a standard black vinyl version. In the US, the LOSER edition comes on Rainforest Green Marble while in the UK it’s listed as Misty Kiwi Fruit.
The fifth version was an October 2022 from Vinyl Me, Please limited to 1,000 copies.
While the two LOSER editions have unknown pressing quantities, my best guess is between 1,500-2,500. As of early November, about 850 people have the US LOSER Edition in their collection on Discogs with an additional 32 up for grabs in the Discogs Marketplace.
Now let’s take a look at my unboxing video of the When The Wind Forgets Your Name US LOSER Edition on Sub Pop:
Built To Spill has always created, recorded, and released great music. I’ve already told you how formative the band was in cultivating and expanding my music listening tastes in the late 90s, and has continued throughout the band’s releases in the 25 years since coming onto my radar. That said, how does When The Wind Forgets Your Name stack up?
My answer is quite well!
With every new album any artist puts out, there’s always that risk of poorly steering into unchartered territories. Unchartered is an area a band like Radiohead is seasoned at; they do it but they do it well, essentially remaking themselves with virtually every new release.
Built to Spill isn’t necessarily like that, and what you get with When The Wind Forgets Your Name is merely that: a rock solid Built to Spill album that lives true to the sound the band has given us time and time again over 30 years.
Doug Martsch’s vocals are uniquely his own. They always have been. Even the backing music SOUNDS like Built to Spill. It’s what you expect, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
That said, it might be one of their best albums since 2006’s You In Reverse. In fact, over time I may revise that statement and say it’s their best since 1996’s Perfect From Now On!
The album is cohesive with plenty of rock solid tracks. On the A-side, the early singles dominate. The album opens with a powerhouse trio of “Gonna Lose,” “Fool’s Gold,” and “Understood.” All three provide a solid grounding for the album and draw the listener in.
In fact, “Fool’s Gold” gets my vote as one of the best videos of the year:
The B-side, too, has plenty of catchy tracks like “Alright” and album closer “Comes a Day.”
“Alright” is emotive and a hint moody, and when it switches gears half way through the song it really comes into its own.
For weaving occasional humor into their music, Martsch and Built to Spill sure can have a seemingly unfathomable amount of depth an introspection, and “Alright” is the perfect example:
And I’ll open up for you
But I’m not a parachute
I can’t keep you from falling
Take some chances on yourself
You belong to something else
Ah, we’ll never know
Life goes on and on year after yearLyrics from “Alright” by Built to Spill
Don’t recommend it, but I’m glad I’m still here
Let’s get up and get over this fear
Likewise, “Comes a Day” rounds out the album with a driving rock sound that reminds me of “Going Out of My Mind” or even some of the more deep cuts from Perfect From Now On. Check out the song below:
When The Wind Forgets Your Name is a prime example of why I keep coming back to Built to Spill year after year, and have done so for well over two-and-a-half decades now.