Built to Spill: Untethered moon (Warner, 2015)

Hace poco leía por blogs musicales que Built to Spill sacaban nuevo disco: Untethered moon (Warner, 2015). Toda una sorpresa para quien escribe, en tanto que les había seguido la pista en sus primeros tiempos ( Perfect from Now OnKeep It Like a Secret…) pero se la perdí tras aquellos discos. Y si por algo se podían caracterizar BTS era quizás por su falta de intensidad, lo que paliaban con su dominio casi perfecto del LoFi, tan en boga por entonces.
Y la sorpresa llega con Untethered moon, un trabajo preñado de intensidad y de guitarras que van algo más allá de la mera distorsión: When I´m blind es una sinfonía Noise muy del estilo de sus compañeros de generación Yo La Tengo. Un álbum que es algo así como un cruce de caminos entre la crudeza de Neil Young & Crazy Horse y el lirismo intenso de Rem. Minutajes extendidos y temas que, aun sin encontrar el estribillo perfecto ni la melodía más musical, empatizan en seguida en el oído del oyente desinhibido. A disfrutarlo…

“(…) Still, the familiarity of Built to Spill is a balm, and hearing Martsch fiddle with his main melodic ideas is like visiting cousins: everyone’s older, no one’s much different, someone’s hair is longer or shorter, someone’s brought a different girlfriend. Martsch is still messing around with unexpected ways to fit together guitar rock songs—on “All Our Songs”, everything drops out for him to play a little three-note figure surrounded by silence, and then he brings the band back in with a pedal stomp. “Living Zoo” works an extended lyrical metaphor (“Being a human/ Being an animal, too”), as the tempo quickens and drags, the guitars twirling overhead like multicolored kites.
There are new moments and darker colors here if you listen closely for them. “On the Way” feels like a song form Martsch has never tried, with female backup singers, a walking bass line, and a cloudy sense of menace. The loosely dub-inflected “C.R.E.B.” (Martsch was threatening a Built to Spill reggae album for a while last decade) is pained and even a little bleak, a welcome reminder that there are shadowy spots in the bright open spaces of his music. “I never meant to forget you/ I always forget people I really love/ If I haven’t seen them for a long time/ And I haven’t seen you for a long time,” he sings, a moment where you can hear and feel some internalized regrets and emotions surface.
In general, the higher the emotional stakes, the better Martsch gets; you sense that he could jam out a passable Built to Spill album in a few weeks if he wanted to (and that’s exactly what it seemed like he did with 2001’s Ancient Melodies of the Future and 2005’s You In Reverse). There is even some audible self-deprecation creeping into his song titles: On There Is No Enemy, he offered us “another nowhere lullaby” (“Nowhere Lullaby”) and onUntethered Moon he gives us “All Our Songs” and the shruggingly titled “Some Other Song”. On “Another Day”, he frets over “an obsolescence no one would plan.” It sounds like a world-beating talent recognizing his own limitations, deciding whether or not to make something good or something great. There will always be flickers of the latter on Built to Spill’s albums, and if there are only four or five them here, they are bright enough to reassure that Martsch is probably not going anywhere, and that he’ll continue to grace us, every once in a while, with his unassuming, inscrutable presence” (Pitchfork)

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