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Ancient Melodies of the Future

3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 10 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros
  • ASIN: B00005LK6L
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #56,587 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Strange
2. The Host
3. In Your Mind
4. Alarmed
5. Trimmed and Burning
6. Happiness
7. Don't Try
8. You Are
9. Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
10. The Weather

Product Description

Product Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Remember the part in the John Cusack movie <I>High Fidelity<I> where Cusack puts on that 'Beta Band' CD to a head-bobbing reaction from the customers? Well if you got the point of that scene, then you'll hate the new Built to Spill CD, like most who enjoy quality music should. But if you're in that majority who actually thought the scene showcased a great tune, then you'll love this recording, and you have our sympathy. Glam-rock band Built to Spill's latest CD 'Ancient Melodies of the Future' represents what happens all too often in the music industry: a band starts off at an independent record label, gains a fan base then sell-out to a big record label, proceed to write five songs in a couple months and use five B-sides to make up a forty-minute record, release it, sell a million copies but it turns out to be amazingly bad, but who cares as long as the band and the record label make money, right? But getting back to the actual album, Built to Spill's latest offering has virtually nothing at all that's enjoyable, or even thought provoking. Every song on the CD sounds the same as the previous one, making it feel like its just one overlong tune, not one song on the whole CD sounds original at all. The enormously dull "You are" shows this extremely well with its lyrics "Everybody/Everybody/Everybody Knows/Everybody Knows/Everybody Knows That/Everybody Knows That" which just drags on and on for four minutes. The band steals from great groups like Radiohead and Oasis, trying to recreate their tunes, but only accomplish falling flat on their face and failing miserably. However, the album is redeemed with "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss" which goes back to their original glam-rock roots that made them so great in the beginning, and showcases what they could've been. This is where we say farewell to the great independent band named Built to Spill, and welcome in the tedious, repetitive sell-out band by the same name.
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Format: Audio CD
On Ancient Melodies of the Future, Built To Spill treads through pretty much the same territory that they did on Keep It Like A Secret. Like that album, AMOTF strikes a balance between the big dumb (in a good way) pop hooks of their earlier stuff, and the more meandering (and somber) Perfect From Now On.

In other words, BTS isn't doing anything here that they haven't done before. This isn't of course, a bad thing. AMOTF is a solid album with some fine songs. Doug Martsch keeps the guitar heroics to a minimum, and some fans might quibble with how much keyboards and faux-string sections dominate the slower songs, but with the exception of a few missteps ("Happiness" being the most grievous offender), this is a solid (if not earth-shattering) album.
The Highlights:
If the thumping drums, backwards guitar skronk and catchy-as-all-get-out chorus of "Strange" don't make you smile uncontrollably, you're brain just ain't wired correctly. Doug once again tosses off lines so stupid that they're brilliant, as in "Yeah it's strange, but what's so strange about that?".
"Alarmed", with its loping beat, wah guitar, and descending strings is one of the most brilliantly miserable things BTS has done. Intimate and desperate, it sounds like Prom Night at the Rehab Clinic.

"Trimmed and Burning" reminds me of "I Would Hurt A Fly" from Perfect From Now On, but that could just be me. The most guitar-heavy song on the album, it manages to be both catchy and menacing at the same time.
"Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss" is a great little pop song that could have fit in nicely on The Normal Years.
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Format: Audio CD
Wowee zowee! This was my first Built to Spill album. If this is a letdown, as everyone else seems to think, then their other stuff must be AMAZING. Since I bought this album it's been my most-frequently-played album. At the first listen, it was "pretty good", but then I played it again, and again, and realized, "Wow, this is REALLY good."

Getting to know this album has turned me into a giggly schoolgirl. You know how it is when the next song comes on and you go, "Oh, THIS song!" and you just want to jump up and down and scream with delight. This album almost compares to Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs in that regard. I adore every song, my particular favorites being Strange, Alarmed, The Host (why doesn't anyone mention that one? It's so good) and The Weather (check out that ending...possibly the best ending of an album since that little chime in OK Computer?). Doug Martsch writes such cool lyrics, and he sings them in such a casual, offhand way, you barely catch it before he's on to the next line (see In Your Mind). Then there are certain lines that stand out and make you swoon with amazement. "Didn't know what I'm afraid of, I had to learn it from a dream. There's a light that never goes out, burning a hole inside of me." It's so hard to explain, there's just something about the way he delivers words that's so cool and powerful. I am obsessed.

I love this CD so much, I assumed it was the high point so far of their career, probably Built To Spill's best album yet. (I knew nothing about the band before buying the CD.) Imagine my surprise when I looked it up on Amazon and found everyone saying that it doesn't measure up to their usual standards. All I can say is, Built to Spill's "usual standards" must be phenomenal. I'm going out to buy another BTS album as soon as I possibly can. That is, on Friday. Friday can not come fast enough...
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