I’m hardly a Built To Spill expert, but I did review some of their canonical albums over at one of the old joints. I also sampled 2009’s There Is No Enemy, in preparation for a concert that year. Untethered Moon, released unusually recently for a Fat Clown review, is very much in line with that last release. They’ve eschewed the esoterica that simultaneously elevated There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and Perfect From Now On and made them frustrating in favor of focusing on songs that emphasize melody, conventional structure, and Doug Martsch’s guitar playing, tone, and production.
Built To Spill still has a lot of cool stuff to say along those lines. Not quite an album’s worth, though, as a few songs and parts of songs clunk pretty hard. But the high points, oh boy. The album is front loaded with its two best songs, and the track that is by far the best, “All Our Songs,” an ode to falling in love with a record (specifically a Built To Spill record?) and listening to it over and over, leads things off. Throw away “C.R.E.B.” and the remaining seven songs all fall into a space between “yeah I dig that” and “this seems okay but unfinished” (inclusive).
It’s a nice, compact little record, clocking in under 46 minutes. And, as such, you don’t mind that there are a few errant tracks here and there. If Built To Spill could put out a record this good every couple of years, they’d be as relevant as ever. When it takes six years for them to put this together, though, you start to realize the lightning is striking less often. Don’t get me wrong: nothing should get in the way of a band being able to make a song like “All Our Songs” available at any time. But maybe we could have let them do a six-song EP that left us wanting more.
Mix: “All Our Songs”
Really Like: “Living Zoo”
Like: “Some Other Song,” “Another Day,” “So,” “When I’m Blind”
Meh: “On The Way,” “Never Be The Same,” “Horizon To Cliff”
Song Notes: After the jump
- All Our Songs – “all night listen to the second record”. Easily, easily the best song on the album. It’s kind of perfect.
- Living Zoo – Got this crazy frantic manic intro in seconds 50 – 90
- On The Way – Too repetitive on the “Maltesian riot” part, but the bit about (being on the way to) Mars is pretty cool
- Some Other Song –
- Never Be The Same – good bass lick
- C.R.E.B. – “Blame the C.R.E.B.” annoying, repetitive, and noodly
- Another Day –
- Horizon To Cliff –
- So –
- When I’m Blind – 8:23