Home Read Classic Album Review: Built to Spill | Ancient Melodies of the Future

Classic Album Review: Built to Spill | Ancient Melodies of the Future

Indie-rock guitar hero Doub Martsch eases up with a relaxed, low-impact outing.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Doug Martsch is that rarest of beasts: An honest-to-gosh indie-rock guitar hero.

In a genre that often values style over substance and sees less as more, Martsch, like Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, constructs vast sonic temples of sprawling six-string grandeur. But naturally, being an indie-rock guy, he wants to shuck off that guitar-god mantle. So, on the sixth magnificent album from his Boise, Id., trio Built to Spill, Doug eases up a bit, taking a looser, less meticulous approach than before. Of course, it’s all relative. Most of these 10 dreamy cuts are still thick with layer upon layer of guitars — electric ones, acoustic ones, clean ones, dirty ones, wah-wah ones, backwards ones. And Doug’s slow-burning, rambling arrangements and keening nasal vocals still make you wonder if he isn’t the long-lost love child of Neil Young. But the relaxed, low-impact vibe of gently beautiful cuts like Alarmed, In Your Mind and the buzzy fuzz-pop of Strange don’t feel like Doug spent hours worrying over every solo. And for him, that’s a pretty heroic effort.