Built to Spill, “Untethered Moon”

Built-To-Spill_UntetheredMoon_RSDBuilt to Spill
Untethered Moon
WARNER
7/10

In the late ’90s, Built to Spill firmly established itself as a critical and popular success with two incredible albums, Perfect from Now On and Keep It Like a Secret. Following those BTS classics came three full-lengths over the next decade that, while never quite reaching that same definitive level, still remain significantly well-regarded releases in their own right. While trying out new instrumentation, arrangements, and styles, those albums may never have made as much of a cultural impact as Perfect and Secret, but they all retain the key elements and charm of a BTS release—insane guitar chops, memorable hooks, and clever turns of phrase.

Six years after the band’s last LP, 2009’s There Is No Enemy, frontman Doug Martsch returns reinvigorated with a tightly focused sound that gets back to what Built to Spill was always best at: playing epic, emphatic, at times frenetic, and always soulful rock. Guitarists Martsch, Jim Roth, and Brett Netson’s work on Untethered Moon is as glorious as ever, and Martsch’s vocals sound (mostly) untouched by the passing of time, even as his lyrics have grown to cover a more somber or melancholic ground. The album captures all the energy of seeing the group play live, and echoes Built to Spill’s best tracks from the past. It almost sounds like a “best of” album…composed entirely of new songs.

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