Built to Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name Music Album Reviews

Built to Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name Music Album Reviews
Dotted with cool surprises and intricately plotted melodies, the veteran indie band’s Sub Pop debut shakes things up without breaking their pattern of low-key, late-period releases.

Doug Martsch remains committed to deflating his own myth. For decades the Built to Spill frontman has shot down any suggestion that he’s a particularly notable songwriter or a great musician. “I’m not very good at guitar playing,” he insisted in a recent interview, his latest effort to downplay the achievement of architecting three of the defining indie rock albums of the 1990s. Whatever greatness fans hear in his music, Martsch contends he doesn’t.

Perhaps that posture began as humility, but at some point Martsch started to internalize the notion of his own unremarkableness. Since Built to Spill’s hot streak ended with 2001’s uneven Ancient Melodies of the Future, Martsch has carried on the group as the very good-not-great entity they’ve always existed as in his head. They’ve continued releasing new albums every five years or so, all of them worthwhile—most of them better than you remember, but never as transcendent as you long for them to be. The woozy charm of the band’s heyday is still there, but the consistency isn’t. Their later albums just don’t stick like the classics.

Built to Spill’s latest, When the Wind Forgets Your Name, shakes things up without breaking the pattern. It’s the project’s first release for Sub Pop, and it was recorded with a new (and already retired) lineup featuring Le Almeida and João Casaes of the Brazilian jazz-rock band Oruã. Those temporary bandmates also assisted Martsch with mixing the album, and the record’s reedy tones, conspicuous overdubs, and psychedelic patina give it a very different feel than the band’s hallmark records with Phil Ek.

This is the first Built to Spill record in a while with new ideas. The whole album is dotted with cool surprises, from the Carnival of Souls-esque organ that waltzes between Martsch’s solos on “Elements” to the patchouli-scented guitars that underscore the bewildered mysticism of “Understood.” The Lifes Rich Pageant chime of “Spiderweb” gives way to one spirited twist after another; it’s the rare recent Built to Spill track with a generosity of intricately plotted melodies that rivals Keep It Like a Secret. And with its jerky guitar fits, “Never Alright” begins as the most overt Dinosaur Jr. homage Martsch has ever attempted. Then it sheds its skin so many times it finishes as something completely antithetical to Dinosaur Jr., a tangle of classic rock, dub, and glockenspiel.

On that song, Martsch returns to his most frequent muse: the difficulty of reconciling the inevitable defeats the world doles out, one after another. “No one can ever help no one not get their heart broken,” he sings. “Never Alright” is immediately followed by a more hopeful counterpart, “Alright,” but hope is always relative on a Built to Spill record: “Life goes on and on year after year,” Martsch sings. “Don’t recommend it, but I’m glad I’m still here.”

If When the Wind Forgets Your Name doesn’t add up to more than the sum of its many gratifying parts, it’s mostly because of the choppy pacing. Especially in its opening half, too many tracks get bogged down by dreary tempos that stop the record whenever it locks into a stride. Martsch may be incapable of writing a bad song, but the snoozy “Fool’s Gold” is as close as he gets, and he preemptively sucks a lot of steam out of the album by positioning it right after the ripping opener “Gonna Lose.”

Unforced errors like that really drag down an album, but that’s the story of late-period Built to Spill: No matter how solid their records are, they always seem to tease an even-better one that’s just out of reach, taunting fans with what could have been. Nonetheless, When the Wind Forgets Your Name shows that in generous spurts this band can still sound as driven and disarmingly sincere as they did a quarter century ago. If it’s a lesser Built to Spill album that’s because they all are now. But as their lesser albums go, it’s one of the better ones.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Built to Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name Music Album Reviews Built to Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 26, 2022 Rating: 5


Post a Comment