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Built to Spill

You In Reverse (Warner Bros.)


You in Reverse, the sixth studio album from Boise's Built to Spill, shouldn't work -- every track pushes or cracks the 4:30 mark. "Conventional Wisdom," the first single, clocks in at over six minutes. Opener "Goin' Against Your Mind" rolls on for nine.

Guitars dominate. For every verse, there's an electric counterpart, and the lyrics, surrounded by guitar digression, come in elliptical, non-narrative spits -- grown-up, old-man stuff that could be immediately dismissed. Doug Martsch seems to be serving didactic mantras about how not to fall prey to The Man -- "You do your best to avoid assimilation/It's the best that you can do" -- and floating, carefree idealism -- "Life ain't nothing but a dream/Realistic as it seems." Has the dude who dissed his stepdad for dissing Bowie traded spunk for normalcy?

Hardly. If anything, You in Reverse establishes Martsch once and for all as an individual, one of the most accomplished arrangers of guitar in any genre. Martsch's textures and melodic variations are demanding to the point of being bewildering, but he shuns esoteric self-involvement for captivating swirls of sound that funnel straight into some of the best melodies he's ever managed.

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