Built To Spill – You In Reverse

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (Part 6)

Built To Spill managed to find a place in their career where they were, it seems, free to do what they wanted. Amazingly still on a major label, they have slowed their output quite a bit and have settled into a comfortable groove where every few years, Martsch and his confederates postmark an album from Boise and it will be about 10 songs long, and it will have one longish song, and it will be a mix of fast songs and ballads, and pretty much every song will have guitar lines that look like the High Five interchange in Dallas xeroxed on top of itself twenty times.

What I Think of This Album

You In Reverse arrived five years after Ancient Melodies of the Future and Martsch wastes no time delivering a statement of purpose, as “Going Against Your Mind” unleashes almost nine minutes of relentless drums and pulsar-bright guitars. “Conventional Wisdom” also suggests the band felt they had something to prove, as this brilliantly constructed number starts out as speedy noise-pop a la Dinosaur Jr., then shifts into a pretty bridge, then goes completely off the rails.

“Liar” hearkens back (intentionally or otherwise) to “You Were Wrong” in its lyrics, but has a delicate, down-home setting, with some fine drumming (there are some well-placed cymbal splashes, and I don’t even like cymbals). Album ender “The Wait” finds Martsch once again adopting a waltz time signature and running his vocals through a delay to create a somber, brooding masterpiece, full of unusual guitar effects.

Elsewhere, “Traces” is a moody piece with lively guitar work, as if Martsch was fronting the Smiths in some alternate universe. The band embarks on a slow but short and sympathetic march on “Saturday”: “And I’m glad you’re not like us / And by us I mean everyone in the world who isn’t you.” Heavy “Mess With Time” sounds like a bullfight with guitars and minus the animal-abuse-dressed-up-as-heritage, that suddenly gets several shades lighter for the second half.

Lushness abounds on the swirling “Just A Habit,” (which nonetheless adds a stinging solo), and Neil Young gets an even more obvious homage than usual on “Wherever You Go,” which could have come from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

There were a lot of changes this time around, as the band added fourth member Jim Roth on guitar (though Brett Netson continued to guest, as well as keyboard master Sam Coomes) and dispensed with the seemingly, but not actually, indispensable Phil Ek as producer (apparently, no one produced this album).

The Best Thing About This Album

“Going Against Your Mind” will make you spill your cereal.

Release Date

April, 2006

The Cover Art

This drawing is by Portland artist Mike Scheer, who has done other work for Built To Spill and Martsch’s previous band, Treepeople, among others. I am not fond of it. Other than the hairy flying saucer/ladybug on the right (which I would lay down my life for), the whole thing seems a bit like a teenager just discovered Dalí.

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