Few bands are as synonymous with a certain scene than Built To Spill is with the ham-fisted catch-all genre of “Indie Rock”. Formed in the early 90s in unassuming Boise, Idaho, singer/guitarist/songwriter Doug Martsch led a rotating cast of musicians through a handful of now-classic records throughout the 90s – There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, Perfect From Now On, and Keep It Like A Secret. While Seattle was building the pacific northwest grunge sound, Built To Spill (along with peers Modest Mouse) was growing the tradition of guitar-driven “indie rock” that came before them, from stalwarts such as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.
Built To Spill have been consistently releasing music since the group’s inception, with Doug Martsch being the only steady member. Last year they signed to the great Sub Pop label, and now we have the band’s tenth studio album, When The Wind Forgets Your Name, which aptly is released 30 years after the band’s debut LP.
Doug makes music for Built To Spill fans. By that I mean, 30 years into his career with this band, he has honed his songwriting to a fine point. Built To Spill fans know what to expect from Doug, and Doug always delivers. When The Wind Forgets Your Name is no exception – the opening track “Gonna Lose” starts the album off with a bang, with a classic Martsch riff that just as easily could be a guitar lead on an electric Neil Young album, a la Ragged Glory.
Other tracks are more subtle and just downright beautiful. “Elements” features a pretty yet somewhat sinister chord progression, with organs underneath. It builds to an intense crescendo before breaking off again, with Martsch waxing poetic: “Up in the stars / Up in the sky / Another world abounds / And I don’t know what it means / But I like the way it sounds”.
This record doesn’t bring much in terms of surprises, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thirty years into his career, Doug Martsch is maintaining a cult fanbase by releasing quality albums and keep a rigorous touring schedule – that’s more than you can say about a lot of artists.