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Built To Spill: Ancient Melodies Of The Future


Built To Spill

Album: Ancient Melodies Of The Future
Label: Warner Bros.

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On its past few studio albums, Built To Spill has innovated with remarkable results, drawing its nifty sideways guitar-rock out to epic length on 1997's Perfect From Now On, then slimming it down for 1999's more musically compact, anthem-driven Keep It Like A Secret. Those two fantastic records certainly implied continued evolution, so it takes time to get used to Ancient Melodies Of The Future's relative stasis. Opening with "Strange," which more or less sequelizes Secret's "The Plan" (both revolve around plans, for one thing), the album sounds like the work of a band enough at peace to rest on its laurels for a while. Once it establishes that it won't again radically update the Idahoans' sound, Ancient Melodies Of The Future reveals itself for what it is: a compilation of 10 more snaky, tricky, engrossing rock songs that continue in the vein of arguably Built To Spill's best album. "Strange," "Don't Try," and "Happiness" all rock out with outsized efficiency, but the disc is made whole by comparatively experimental moments like the woozy "You Are"—buoyed by some of Doug Martsch's most subtly impressive guitar work to date—and the jauntily infectious late-album highlight "Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss." Ancient Melodies Of The Future finds Built To Spill in a holding pattern, but the album's memorably direct songs prove that there are far worse places to be.