I will unabashedly admit, I am a sucker for 1999’s Built To Spill. There is no competing with the 90s guitar rock on Keeping It A Secret, or even the somber sounds of the 2006 single, “Liar.” Blame it on Doug Martsch’s apathetically relaxing vocals, but ever since I heard “Else,” there remains a soft spot in my heart for Built To Spill. With no vagary in sound, Untethered Moon sounds just like the Built To Spill I remember. And after 6 years of nothing from frontman and songwriter Doug Martsch, it seems the band has stuck with what they know, because hey, why change if you don’t need too?
Album opener, “All Our Songs” is a six minute track reaffirming what Built To Spill does. Heavy, long guitar riffs rolling around Martsch’s vocals. If Martsch has any reserve when it comes to the tangling of his riffs, he isn’t using it. “Living Zoo” is catchy and loud as a long intro fades into the quickening of bass and drums as Martsch sings, “Being a human/Being an animal too.”
“Some Other Song” is melancholic. A shoegaze melody complete with lyrics where Martsch admits, “I don’t know how to never fall apart.” It is this necessary emotion both in lyrics and instrumentals that makes Built To Spill’s tracks so easy to listen to, and so likable. The rest of the album follows suit as “Another Day” and “So” include a classic build up of intertwined guitars into Martsch’s phrases and chunky chorus.
With over two decades making music as a group, Untethered Moon highlights everything Built to Spill fans have loved about previous releases, making this one feel even more like home. Sounding just as good as they always have, Built to Spill possesses a longevity few indie rock bands can brag about.