Built to Spill

The New Built to Spill CD finds reluctant guitar god singer/songwriter Doug Martsch taking a different tack. No, the studio techniques perfected by Martsch and producer Phil Ek retains its larger-than-life, orchestral-like sound. It’s the songwriting that’s changed.

Martsch no longer jams for hours on end until he finds the perfect melody, rather he sticks to his first impressions, and it shows. The songs are simpler and cleaner on this release ���� riffing is more apparent and noodling is at a minimum. Make no mistake, Martsch’s fingers still travel miles of string, and the texture is the same, but it sounds as if Martsch is more concerned with his critics’ charges of self-indulgence than he is with being true to himself.

The return to simpler song structures, a la 1994’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, (no, it’s not that good) leaves us wanting more. The majority of the cuts are mid-tempo, plodding offerings.

Where the record succeeds is when Martsch turns it up a notch, as on “Happiness,” an almost Stonesy rocker that is a welcome surprise, and reminds us what Built To Spill could be if Martsch wasn’t afraid to rock out a bit.