Words by Russell Carstens

Untethered Moon is the new album by Boise indie rock band Built to Spill. And this, their eighth record, shows they still have a true knack for writing engaging riffs and utilizing dynamics.

Compelling rhythm changes on the rock opener “All Our Songs” keep things interesting, along with a soft vocal delivery — which provides juxtaposition. Bass breakdowns and a guitar solo washed in wah and fuzz thrusts the outro into overdrive. “Living Zoo’ begins with a stuttered riff, providing a Dinosaur Jr.-like groove. The J Mascis influence can be heard in the song’s lead playing. Suddenly, a verse begins with a sing-along that would make Michael Stipe proud. Likewise, “Never Be The Same” could have been a jangly and melodic college rock staple from the 80s.

“On The Way” is a mid-tempo, folky song with pleasant tremolo-infused lead guitar. Vocalist/guitarist Doug Martsch sings, “On our way to mars/ We can reminisce….” The guitar solo seems to take hold of time itself and stretch it out, floating you away to somewhere pleasant. The same goes for “Some Other Song,” starting as a slow dirge with atmospheric pedal steel leads. Similarly, on “Horizon To Cliff — The Rise,” the band allows plenty of time for a slide guitar to do the talking on this slowed-down rock/folk hybrid. The slightly-spacey “CREB” features a creepy melody — the kind that would play if a cartoon cat was sneaking around a corner to ambush an unsuspecting mouse.

The standout track “Another Day” returns to heavy alternative rock, with a swirly effect hidden somewhere in its layers. The drumming by Steve Gere is particularly excellent on this song. Another exceptional track, “So,” boasts a gargantuan super-fuzz riff. The album closes with the eight-minute freakout jam “When I’m Blind,” driven by tremolo-picked guitar.

Even if this band is new to you, Untethered Moon is an album steeped in goodness that will appeal to indie and alternative rock fans.

Built To Spill
‘Untethered Moon’
Warner Brothers Records
© April 18th, 2015



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