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Posted on April 27th, 2015 (12:00 pm) by Magdalene Taylor

Built to Spill stands upon a deific monument within the world of indie rock. They practically own the place. They are indie rock in the liveliest of senses, a late '90s embodied enthusiasm and earnestness. The wailing of the guitar and tenacity of the drums are juxtaposed with founding member, and overall leader of the show, Doug Martsch’s uniquely heartfelt vocals. Built to Spill already holds a revered status, with their 1994 album There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, and 1997's Perfect From Now On each sitting on a handful of “Best Indie Albums of All Time” and “Best Albums of the '90s” lists. For many, Built to Spill has a comforting nostalgia, and Untethered Moon holds onto that.

It’s strange how deeply soothing Untethered Moon can feel, even to someone who holds no sentiment to the work of Built to Spill’s folklore. On an immediate level, the album is powered by the same Dinosaur Jr. level of guitar intensity and drum-heavy noisiness, making somewhat of a comeback from previous works in the case of the latter. But still, there’s an overarching calm, both in transcendent effects and by Martsch’s vocals. The first track, “All Our Songs,” establishes this loose sense of tranquility in the midst of true indie rock fervor, with lyrics suggesting a restoration of the tranquility once lost. It’s humble, yet self-assured, developing a warm aura that holds you through the album.

This is true regardless of the overall instrumental tone of the song. There are plenty of more classically loud and edgy moments, like those on “C.R.E.B.” (which even come off as a bit weird) but majority of the tracks aren’t able to be characterized by one tone alone. “Some Other Song” begins in a dark, brooding build, and blends into a dreamy and beautiful connection between vocals and instrumentals. “Another Day” contains this same dreaminess, but with an additional loud, blaring rhythmic clarity.

Throughout Untethered Moon there remains a commitment to a classic Built to Spill '90s alt-rock honest intensity, with a few moments of experimentation which similarly seem to characterize Built to Spill’s genuine commitment to the creation of music. What seems most important is that the sense of comfort that comes from listening to one of Built to Spill’s defining albums, the one’s that gave indie rock an image in their overall heart, lays at the core of Untethered Moon.

Track List:

  1. All Our Songs
  2. Living Zoo
  3. On The Way
  4. Some Other Song
  5. Never Be The Same
  6. C.R.EB.
  7. Another Day
  8. Horizon to Cliff
  9. So
  10. When I’m Blind
Built to Spill - Untethered Moon Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

73 / 100
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