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Keep It Like a Secret

125 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 23, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Plan
  2. Center Of The Universe
  3. Carry The Zero
  4. Sidewalk
  5. Bad Light
  6. Time Trap
  7. Else
  8. You Were Right
  9. Temporarily Blind
  10. Broken Chairs

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 23, 1999)
  • Original Release Date: February 23, 1999
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: WEA/Reprise
  • ASIN: B00000HZFH
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,608 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Kluge on May 2, 2003
Format: Audio CD
On the fringes of music you can find some really spectacular things. It's a journey that's often worth taking- trying to scope out artists doing something unique and passionate in the face of everything corporate and plain.
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This is an album I love and respect each time I listen to it. I respect it because Doug Martsch engages in some self-abnegation in order to produce more finely crafted, balanced songs. Much like guitar myth Richard Thompson, who saves most his guitar heroics for live performances, Martsch largely abstains from the astounding solos at which he excels in live shows in order to keep the focus on the songs. This isn't to say that he doesn't plan some amazing guitar on the album; indeed, the album stands almost as an encyclopedia of the uses to which a guitar can be put in a song. But it is to say that instead of solos or instrumental breaks that showcase his formidable skills as a guitarist, he opts instead for using his instrument as a means of texturing and coloring each songs. Martsch largely achieves this by magically synthesizing a host of predecessor guitarists. Contrast him with Thompson again for a moment: Thompson constantly plays guitar parts that sound like no one else in the history of guitar. Martsch constantly plays bits that sound like earlier guitarists, but the genius comes from the way he seamlessly blends them together to achieve a magical synthesis. He can sound in the span of a few songs like guitarists as varied as Johnny Marr of The Smiths, Neil Young, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd of Television, J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., Greg Sage, Richard Quine, Robbie Robertson, Bob Mould, and even the Edge. But it is Martsch's ability to spin on a dime to channel some guitar trick he picked up from somewhere and blend it with something else he learned in another place that can make this album so sonically exhilarating.

Thanks to Martsch's genius on guitar, these songs are perfectly crafted entities, but that doesn't mean that the album as a whole is perfect.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Meg on September 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Built to Spill is both creative and focused. Their sounds are beautiful and skillful. They are talented in all areas, both musically and lyrically. The guitar sounds bob and weave, bringing songs to a haunting conclusion. Broken Chairs is such a song. At a hefty 8 minutes, Built to Spill showcases wonderful guitar solos and other various instruments. The songs, at first, sound distant and unappealing. However, continued exposure will have you thinking, "Wow." Carry the Zero is an amazing song, which leaves you breathless and emotionally spent. It's sad melodies are representative of most of the album. For a change of pace, listen to Center of the Universe. This song had limited radio airplay, and is the most instantly catchy song. Also, Sidewalk, is an upbeat song, reminding me of British pop rock songs. The greatest gem on the CD has to be You Were Right. It is a power punch of a song dealing with fleeting fame and contains many rock references. Keep it a Secret is a masterpiece, and a testament of Northwest music.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This was the best CD of the decade of the 1990's in my opinion. By a VERY wide margin. Doug Martsch is the most gifted musician I have heard in a long long time. I've never heard music sound like this before. Darn near perfect arrangement on every song. Doug's skill is to layer seemingly independent guitar melodies on top of each other, creating an amazing wall of sound in which the guitars seem to be talking to each other. If anyone can do it better, I'd like to hear it. Perfect examples are Temporarily Blind, where especially towards the end, there are two or three guitar lines competing for your attention, and Else, which is one of the most beautiful guitar arrangements I've ever heard. I've owned this album since shortly after it came out, and it's been in my heavy rotation until this very day. As a rule, I don't judge people by their musical preferences because it only starts arguments, but it is beyond me how ANYONE could listen to this album and not understand its sheer brilliance. Though I am happy with Built to Spill remaining a secret to the radio waves, it's a shame that a genius like Doug Martsch probably won't ever be recognized, while garbage like Creed, NStink, and Britney are just raking in the millions, despite having no talent.
If you like rock music and creative guitar work, don't walk, RUN and buy this album. It's wonderful music.
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