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The Normal Years

Built to Spill

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Album Review

The Normal Years strings together Built to Spill's loose ends: outtakes from each of the band's first two albums, three independently released singles, and two tracks recorded for compilations. Given bandleader Doug Martsch's penchant for exquisite production and extensive arranging on his later albums, this mix-and-match release is certainly the least desirable full-length the band released. The sound is sparse, and Martsch is still learning the intricacies of his craft. But the innocence in songs like "Girl" and "Joyride" is an aural treat, and The Normal Years works as a good illustration of Built to Spill's humble beginnings.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Boise, ID

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Built to Spill were one of the most popular indie rock acts of the '90s, finding the middle ground between postmodern, Pavement-style pop and the loose, spacious jamming of Neil Young. From the outset, the band was a vehicle for singer/songwriter/guitarist Doug Martsch, who revived the concept of the indie guitar hero just as Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis — another important influence — was beginning to fade from the limelight. On record, Martsch the arranger crafted intricate,...
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