With Ancient Melodies of the Future, Built to Spill expand on the big sound that they crafted with Keep It Like a Secret. Like their Northwestern peers Modest Mouse, Built to Spill anachronistically create indie rock that can be played in arenas. "In Your Mind," with its Far Eastern guitar lines and thumping beat, beautifully updates "Tomorrow Never Knows" for the guitar rock set. "Alarmed" spirals into a satisfying guitar and keyboard noise jam, while "Trimmed and Burning" brings a dark "Sunday Bloody Sunday"-era U2 grandiosity to the band's usual jangle pop. "Happiness" is like a speeding car -- it has the intensity, rush, and twanging swagger of an automobile race. The following song, "Don't Try," unleashes a full-on assault of melancholy guitar whine in a validation of life and experience where Doug Martsch repeats matter of factly, "and everyone goes on and on." The album closes with "The Weather," a shimmering love song that begins with a resonant acoustic guitar. The narrator describes being "outside in the cool night, and the stars gravitate towards you." These few lyrics are a fitting description of Built to Spill, a band that goes on and on, always changing, always moving forward, but somehow always staying the same -- familiar and comforting -- as they carry the ancient melodies of personal histories, theirs and yours, into the future.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Charles Spano