The past couple of years have been great times for fans that cut their musical teeth on the sound of ’90s indie/alt rock. The stars of the ’90s (both large and small) are back releasing new and surprisingly quality material. Mazzy Star, The Afghan Whigs, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Beck have all put out long awaited new LPs, and even Neutral Milk Hotel and Failure (anyone remember Failure?) are touring again. Built To Spill joins the fray with their first LP in six years – Untethered Moon.  Doug Martsch and band have not altered anything for the new times. They are still all guitar, flannel, sudden tempo changes, loose arrangements and more guitar which will feel both nostalgic and refreshing to long-term fans.

The album opens nicely with “All Our Songs” a six minute jam that is classic Built To Spill.  It immediately lets the listener know that Martsch is returning to the early looser sound of Perfect for Now On and Keep It Like A Secret and forgoing the slightly more polished sound of There Is No Enemy. Built to Spill has always been about guitars and this track lays them on nice and thick especially at the end. It also introduces the basic theme of the album, Rock & Roll is good for the soul.

The next track and early single, “Living Zoo”, highlights Martsch’s ability to create immediately accessible pop rock songs that nearly completely ignore traditional pop song structure. This is the same kind of track that made the band the surprise breakout success of their time. Point in case the song starts slowly and then builds to a frenzy over the first a minute and half before Martsch sings a single note.  When his vocals finally kick in the tempo immediately slows.

“Never Be the Same” touches on the notion of “rock stardom” and what it means for Martsch.  He sings “seen it all you’ve seen it all / you’ve seen it all there’s nothing else”  followed later with “cause thats the way its always been / and in another century / its gonna be this way again”.  It feels like he is acknowledging that he has done this before, he is doing it again with the knowledge that it won’t really change much.  He just needs to do it.  If doing it again results in Untethered Moon and Martsch back in form, fans should be very glad that he is doing it again.

Untethered Moon is out now and is available at, iTunes, and Amazon

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