One of the most critically acclaimed and respected of alt-rock bands, Built To spill continues its assault on the mainstream with Ancient Melodies Of The Future. Led by influential indie hero Doug Martsch, the band's sixth album lays down a dense sonic pop that rockets Built To Spill into the future.
With a band like Built to Spill, the key to success is to chart a course through the future that mirrors the past. Built to Spill may be on a major label, but its linchpin, front man Doug Martsch, still writes all song parts himself and has a large hand in every album's production from start to finish. Martsch assembles the players--drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson--to take their parts in the studio and on tour, but he still holds all the musical cards. As a result, the Boise, Idaho-based trio sounds pretty much the same on Ancient Melodies of the Future
as it did on 1997's Perfect from Now On
and 1999's Keep It Like a Secret
. That said, though, why change a winning formula? Martsch's mix of wry humor, Neil Young-influenced rock, and soaring indie-pop ballads has garnered him a Guided by Voices-like cult following that this album is in no danger of turning away. "In Your Mind" is the standout track, with Martsch's fitting assertion that "No one can tell me to listen / No one can tell me what's right / because nobody has my permission / and no one can see in your mind." The other tracks are tried and true BTS fare, bending guitar effects around straight-ahead rock ("Trimmed and Burning") or layering warm melodies atop Martsch's elliptical lyrics. Indie-rock fans looking for something wildly divergent or refreshingly different won't find either on Ancient Melodies
, but those looking for a linear extension of BTS's past works should find a happy resistance to change in this latest release. --Jennifer Maerz