Built to Spill haven't released an album for five years, and the time off seems to have rejuvenated the band -- You in Reverse is full of fire and energy. The bandmembers play with a thrilling blend of abandon and sensitivity on this mix of accessible guitar rockers, twisting and turning guitar workouts, and somber balladry with enough intelligence and emotion to put groups half their age to shame (and by the looks of the gray in their beards, they are getting up there). Many of the songs on You in Reverse are midtempo ballads, some quiet and autumnal ("Traces"), most trippy and bursting with wild and dramatic guitar solos ("The Wait," "Gone"). All of them are quite heart-rending, with Doug Martsch's melancholy everyman vocals and the emotion (in his voice but especially in the guitars) flowing like tears from the speakers. Most of the tracks also feature spiraling guitar solos and climaxes that conjure up images of the bandmembers on-stage at an outdoor stadium jamming their beards off as the crowd goes bananas. These songs are impressive, but the album really shines on the tracks that boost the tempo. "Conventional Wisdom" is a raging rocker that rides an inspired guitar melody into alt-rock guitar nirvana, sounding like the best tune Dinosaur Jr. never wrote (although those slackers never would have thrown a chamber music-inspired instrumental bridge into the middle of a song before freaking out with an epic solo). "Mess with Time" charges ahead like an angry rhino, kicking up guitar sparks and sounding a lot like classic Wipers in the process. Best of all is the amazing "Goin' Against Your Mind," an almost nine-minute guitar explosion that kicks off the album in breathtaking style. By the time it's through playing, you'll be hard-pressed to imagine a way the rest of the album could stand up to its intensity and drama. That the record does manage to acquit itself superbly is quite an accomplishment. Though there are no great surprises on You in Reverse, it is one of Built to Spill's strongest efforts, and anyone who has followed their career knows that this is high praise indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra