This Way Out
Caroline / Quigley
* * *
With Berry out of the band, Idaho essentially became a one-man project for Martin on This Way Out; aside from a number of guest drummers and one or two other brief cameos from others on guitar and vocals, Martin wrote and recorded everything pretty much himself. The lack of Berry's fine abilities is noticeable, but not as wounding as might be thought; if nothing else, This Way Out finds Idaho taking on more of an individual identity. Martin's singing takes on more of an attractive drawl throughout much of the album — nothing too deep-fried or anything, but it's there — while the songs tend toward a shorter length and slightly more energetic pace. The quick, to-the-point "Crawling Out" shows the advantage of economy here, carrying all the impact of the first album at its best in only two minutes. Overall, without necessarily being any lighter, Idaho still sounds a touch lighter — an odd combination, but one that works. Martin's guitar playing steers away from sheer power and subtle pain in favor of a gentler wracked sadness — more Neil Young than Michael Gira, say. Once or twice Martin and company almost stumble across what Built to Spill perfected a few years later — shorter, cutting emotional and reflective songs as much pre- as post-punk in their sparkling, soaring angst. "Fuel" and "Glow" are two of the best, especially the latter, with Martin's extra guitar overdub the killer touch on the gently driving rhythm, his singing the perfect blend of regret and curiosity. "Still," with its predominantly acoustic arrangement, only a small bit of electric guitar softly moaning in the background, is the quiet revelation of the album, firing up into a full-band style only at the end and making the most of the contrast.
this review is/was online at All Music Guide
and is available here for archival purposes only