Built to Spill

YOU IN REVERSE | Warner Bros.
By MATT ASHARE  |  April 14, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars

HIPPER THAN THOU: Built To Spill's m.o. hasn't changed - and neither has the quality of their work.With the exception of certain hipper-than-thou types, the verdict on You in Reverse, Built To Spill’s first album in five years and their sixth overall, is unanimously — almost giddily — positive. It’s just that no one seems to be quite sure what makes this particular salvo from Doug Martsch, the bearded Northwestern guitar hero with the strange and strangely sympathetic voice, so compelling. He certainly hasn’t changed his m.o.: long, winding guitar solos abound, as do layered, psychedelic melodies, pleasant blasts of power-chorded pop, and odd little prog-rock refrains (somewhere around the three-minute mark in “Conventional Wisdom,” Martsch comes close to conjuring wood nymphs, but he scares them off with some acidic distortion just in time). Maybe it just comes down to absence making the heart grow fonder. Or it could be that, after years of rotating lineups, Martsch has finally kept a band together long enough to generate some real chemistry. Drummer Scott Plouf kicks off the disc with slamming drums, bassist Brett Nelson is so in the pocket you barely notice how crucial his support is, and it’s become hard to tell Jim Roth’s guitar apart from Martsch’s. Yes, the songs are long, but there’s always something that pops out of the mix — a lyric (“When things are all you think of/And plans are all you make/And thoughts are all you dream of/And falls are all you take” from “Liar”) or, more often, the tone and texture of a solo. What’s not to like?

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