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Built to Spill still records for a major label, though at this point there’s little pressure for a crossover radio hit and no expectations for an epic masterpiece. That leaves the group’s leader, Doug Martsch, free to avoid revising the band’s decadelong formula of indie-pop infused with lengthy, fluid guitar jams, an approach that on 2001’s Ancient Melodies of the Future achieved dead-end perfection. That album was clean, clearly defined, and a black hole of nearly intolerable tedium, and it raised the possibility that Martsch had reached a point of ultimate refinement beyond which he had nothing left to say. But You in Reverse marks an unexpected, late-career high point for the group. Martsch’s songs—once just a loose framework for his guitar freakouts—are more varied and fully formed than they have been in years, and his guitar performance is imaginative and adept, picking out precise melodies whose free-form passages actually serve the songs. The eight-minute-plus “Goin’ Against Your Mind” opens with a pounding drum beat and wicked interlocking guitar patterns, fades into a lazy, soulful interlude, and builds to a delightfully raucous climax. But the real surprise of the disc is Martsch’s renewed songwriting. The mood shifts from song to song, from his typically Western tight-lipped romantic melancholy on “Traces” (“I know it’s hard/Sometimes for you to tell/What you want and where the world begins….All traces disintegrate”) and “Saturday” (“You waited for Saturday/You waited for my birthday/And most of us probably expect even less than that”) to “Conventional Wisdom,” which soars on a delightfully bright and precipitous hook and limber 4/4 rhythm. Martsch pays homage to the dark swagger and stomp of Neil Young’s Crazy Horse on the vaguely menacing “Wherever You Go,” and elsewhere there are hints of classic late-’60s California psychedelia (“Gone”) and surf rock (“Mess With Time”). The band—Martsch, bassist Brett Nelson, ex-Spinanes drummer Scott Plouf, and guitarist Jim Roth—sounds positively refreshed after its five-year break from recording and split with longtime producer Phil Ek, who helped define Built to Spill’s progressively polished recordings in the ’90s (the band produced You in Reverse itself). You in Reverse isn’t radical. It’s not exactly necessary, either, but it offers hope that there may still be some gas left in Martsch’s tank and, more important, significant pleasure on its own.—Matthew Everett