So-called alternative bands can't remain outsiders over the long haul: Either they collapse under the weight of unmet expectations, or they become as mainstream as the acts to which they were once considered alternatives. How, then, can Built to Spill continue to make enjoyable and relevant music after more than a decade as indie-rock royalty? Because deep down, group leader Doug Martsch is a scruffy traditionalist who never wanted to destroy popular music in the first place. He just wanted to make it better -- and with the group's latest album, he does.
Martsch comes in like a lion during "Goin' Against Your Mind," a rampaging slab of counterintuitive psychedelia that clocks in at over eight minutes. "Conventional Wisdom" is equally strong, thanks to the juxtaposition of delicate guitar arpeggios and screaming solos. And if "The Wait" initially seems tranquil in comparison, the players' passions are never far from the surface. When they Spill, it's a beautiful thing.
From beginning to end, Reverse heads in the right direction. Reconsider the alternative.
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