Built to Spill

Untethered Moon

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

Built to Spill probably should have named themselves Built to Last. Their 2015 album, Untethered Moon, is only their eighth, but they've been cranking out guitar-saturated indie rock for over two decades. Not only is their longevity (both as a band and as a Warner Bros. recording artist) remarkable, so is their consistency. The 2015 edition of the band sounds like the 2009 edition, which sounded like the 2001 edition, and so on back to 1993. The constants in their sound -- the intertwined guitars, Doug Martsch's yelping vocals, the Neil Young-inspired epic ballads, the feverish rockers -- are as constant as ever and anyone who dug the band at any point could drop right back in and instantly feel at home. Anyone who has remained a devoted fan of the band will feel rewarded for staying the course with the delivery of another quality indie rock epic. Martsch and his bearded crew of guitar stranglers and rhythm section pounders sound fully invested in what they're playing and singing, oozing passion and fire on insistently intense tracks like "Another Day" and "All Our Songs." When they dial it back and aim for a more measured attack, they sound just as good. The jangling "On Our Way" and "Never Be the Same" have a relaxed front-porch feel that provides a nice break between guitar blowouts. Martsch remains the same intense songwriter, able to twist the knife with a turn of phrase, or raise the spirits with a soaring chorus, and this batch of songs is as strong as any he's delivered. Only the meandering "When I'm Blind" lets down the side, but it's more of a rambling guitar workout than a song. They could have skipped it and the album would have been better off, but even with it, Untethered Moon is the usual strong Built to Spill effort. They show no signs of age or of slowing down, and if they keep cranking out records this passionate and powerful, there's no reason they can't keep going forever.

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