- Audio CD (Feb. 23 1999)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Warner Bros
- ASIN: B00000HZFH
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,230 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Keep It Like A Secret
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|1. The Plan|
|2. Center of the Universe|
|3. Carry the Zero|
|5. Bad Light|
|6. Time Trap|
|8. You Were Right|
|9. Temporarily Blind|
|10. Broken Chairs|
For the first time with a set rhythm section, critically acclaimed Built To Spill has created its most accomplished and focused album yet. Possessing a collective unorthodox vision, the band's second album, Keep It Like A Secret, builds on the success of 1997's Perfect From Now On. Invoking less analysis and more volume, Doug Martsch, one of today's most influential, independent-minded musicians, has crafted shorter, more direct songs that revel in a literate expressionism rarely heard in alt-rock and yet still rock with the same visceral impulses. Built To Spill may not be a secret much longer.
Most guitar heroes make their mark by doing something extravagant, like playing with their teeth or with their instrument in flames. Doug Martsch of Boise, Idaho's Built to Spill has acquired his guru status by simpler means--he combines his trippy, meandering guitar style with classic pop structures. Martsch also wins points for singing about small-scale moments as well as huge moral abstractions, from watching TV to contemplating the center of the universe. By subtly balancing the forest of dense guitars with Martsch's oddly prosaic yet uncannily beautiful singing, Built to Spill hold the rare achievement of making music that's rooted yet allows you to fly. "Time Trap" begins with a harplike guitar line floating above a heavy wave of distortion, drifts into a reggae pattern, and eventually rises to the high step of musical theater. The charming and funny "You Were Right" decides once and for all which of the classic-rock clichés ring true. "You were wrong when you said, 'Everything's going to be all right' / You were right when you said, 'We're all just bricks in the wall.'" It is a richly deserved analysis from alt rock's heroic Everyman. --Lois Maffeo
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Here's one of those few examples of true gems that can only really be found with a little searching. Think Sonic Youth but cut the abstraction, and make the music poppier and more accesible, and you've got in in a nutshell. In all honesty, I'm completely surprised that Built to Spill hasn't recieved something greater than the (albiet big) cult following they've appreciated over the last 10 years or so.
This album leads off, uh, perfectly from "Perfect from Now On." Where that very incredible album in its own right had sprawling song scapes and drawn out guitar solos that lent it an epic feel, here you get a taste of the epic but also the pop perfection Built to Spill had acheived with its earlier releases.
It starts off with probably the most concise statement of their musical direction yet, "The Plan," which combines sprawling guitar squalor, Doug Martsch's chiming boyish voice, and interesting drum play all into the space of 3 1/2 minutes. The next, "Center of the Universe," is probably their most pop statement, with a loping beat and vocal refections on success. "Carry the Zero" follows with ringing guitar and almost dreampop stylings. It's the best 6 minutes on the album.
The album swings from one spectrum to another, with stomping rock in "Bad Light," fun pop meets hair metal in "Sidewalk," phillosophical ruminations on "Time Trap," gentle harmonies and longing on probably their most beautiful moment "Else." The album concludes somewhat full circle with a stunningly epic track, "Broken Chairs," the aural equivalent of a relationship breaking. Few albums can sound so varied and yet seem so consistent at the same time. It's also amazing that despite middling in indie territory this band has been able to develop so nicely. The future doesn't bode well as Martsch has recently released a solo album, but one can always hope that the band will pull an REM ala "Out of Time" and get the success they deserve. If you love guitar rock and are searching for a band with depth and emotion in a stale time for music, do yourself and this wonderous band a favor and buy this album already.
I approached this album from the background of someone who listens to Progressive/electronic/ambient/experimental rock music (earlier on the day I bought this I was listening to King Crimson's "Lark's Tongues In Aspic"), where just about everyone graduated with a degree in music or is a virtuoso in their own right. I have long held the opinion that the 80's saw the decline of musicianship and the 90's saw its total abandonment in favor of dreck like Rap or sugarPop britney nonmusic. I resigned myself to listening to old music from the 70's and hoped that someone else would also so they could learn how to play REAL music instead of what passes out there.
Apperently Doug Martsch has. He knows how to write, and he plays all his guitar parts himself rather than relying on the help of studio musicians, who wouldn't be able to communicate the emotion he puts in his riffs and melodies.
Scott Pluof knows his place as a bass player. the bass is supposed to function as the base (pun STRONGLY intended) of the song. It is not a solo instument. Sadly no one else seems to think so anymore.
Brett Nelson treats the drums as a melodic element in the songs, which they should be. Listen to the grace of his fills and the interplay between the different parts of his kit. This is something that Bill Bruford used to do. The only other person I know of who does it is Phil Selway.
"The Plan" is a perfect example of Progressive rock form. Listen to this one and Yes' "Yours Is No Disgrace" and you'll be amazed at the paralells.
"Else" is the most emotion-laden song of the past decade, perhaps surpassing even Radiohead's masterpieces "No Surprises" or "How To Disappear". A fabulous crescendo in the latter part of the song.
Built To Spill has done something that I thought was impossible to do - they brought back music. It's sad to think that they aren't nearly as popular as they should be. I think all us loyal BTS fans should buy copies of this CD and give them away to strangers so we can spread the word.
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