For fans of Built to Spill, their 7-inch single for “Car” and “Girl” really is an essential pairing of two great early tracks by the band. Originally released in 1994, the two-track single showcases two great early tracks from the band, highlighting the unique sound and songwriting style they’ve embodied over the course of three decades now. As always, they blend elements of indie rock, punk, and more for a truly distinctive and memorable sound. With their early sound, you also get lo-fi rock.
Case in point: I’ve been a fan of “Car” since the mid 90s, and “Girl,” too, has been up there. As with previous early singles I’ve covered, the pair found home on the band’s 1996 compilation The Normal Years, which collected many of these early singles for a CD-only release.
Side A of the vinyl features “Car”, a classic Built to Spill track that builds from a simple and mellow introduction to a powerful and energetic chorus. The track is engaging and dynamic; in particular, I love the use of what sounds to be a cello.
Frontman Doug Martsch delivers heartfelt lyrics with passion—I’ve always loved the lyrics of this song, touching on themes of escape, freedom, and the longing for something more. “Car” perfectly captures the essence of Built to Spill’s sound, be it their early sound or that which they’ve given us over the course of three decades.
Side B features “Girl”, a louder, more jangly indie-pop track with upbeat guitar riffs and finds Martsch lamenting over the thoughts of and conjecturing ideas surrounding his dream girl. Really, the song only features the rhythm performed on guitar with a second that appears for a solo about half way through. No drums. No bass. It’s stripped down yet almost seems heavier than the A side.
Both tracks were recorded by Calvin Johnson of K Records, who shared the stage with Martsch in band The Halo Benders.
According to the Discogs Master Release Page for the single, there are four variants, all released on Atlas and Face the Music. There are two, well, types of cover art. The first two variants have matching art. It’s a white sleeve with a black and white image on it. One pressed to black vinyl and the other to white.
The second two came on hand-made sleeves like this one here. One was pressed to green vinyl and the other to black. My copy is the black vinyl version, and while there are an unknown quantity of them out there, just over 100 have this 7-inch in their collection on Discogs and the least expensive you’ll find is now just over $30.
Here’s my coverage from the FensePost YouTube Channel:
Do you have a favorite early Built to Spill track? I’m talking pre-1997. My vote goes to “Car,” though there are plenty of others that I love. Let me know your favorite in the comments…