By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
Nominated for Best Riff of '06 (So Far): "Conventional Wisdom" by Built to Spill.
Oh, it's so, so good. Air-guitar-in-your-underwear good. In that one giddy, irresistible guitar figure, Built to Spill frontman Doug Martsch both refutes and affirms everything his outsider Idaho project has ever been. A quintessential pop-rock hook, expertly sculpted and fuzzily textured for maximum stickiness, it's a wonderfully far cry from the languid melancholy that's made BTS one of the most beloved underground bands of the past decade. The return to form comes later on the six-and-a-half-minute song, where Martsch's standout lead gradually frays into a sprawling sonic vista appropriately accented by gusty atmospherics and a full-bore beat. With all its pep and sway and transition, "Wisdom" presents a lot of flavor to swallow in a single tune. But Built to Spill has never delivered bite-sized nuggets.
BTW, there are other songs on You in Reverse. Album opener "Goin' Against Your Mind" is a frantic, doubletime charger, Martsch's man-child vocals straining against a raucous rhythm section before settling into a distant steamroller lullaby. "Liar" wallows in that small-town, small-time, slow-motion loneliness that gained the band its acclaim, and while "Messing With Time" and "Saturday" don't break new ground, they rock with encouraging vigor for these stalwarts of major-label indiedom.
Longtime compatriots Modest Mouse finally broke big in 2004, and the BTS faithful has been waiting/dreading a similar phenomenon. Five years in the making, Reversefinds Martsch with a full-time, five-piece roster, one that's loose and feisty and impeccable. Still, six-minute songs, no matter how epic, pretty much ensure that Built to Spill will never end up on The OC.Thank the indie gods for that, and for "Conventional Wisdom."