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coverpic flag US - Idaho - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 28 - 01/31/99

Built To Spill
Keep It Like A Secret
City Slang

I've said it before, and I'll gladly repeat myself: Doug Martsch is king! It seems like we've already, with still 11 months to go, got a serious candidate for the Album of The Year Award. The son of Boise, Idaho has, together with long-time buddy Brett Nelson (bass), and Scott Plouf (drums, ex-Spinanes, who also drummed on 1997's Perfect From Now On), come up with an album with nothing but poppy, shiny highlights. Keep It Like A Secret is party all the way, a pop'n'roll ballroom blitzkrieg built to last. So if you're thinking of buying only one album this year...

Doug Martsch (also involved with the Halo Benders project with Calvin Johnson of K Records) is probably the most talented American rock-writer since Kurt Cobain left. But instead of too much aggro and anger, the music of Doug Martsch glows and radiates with life force. With such a natural instinct for melodic and contagious hooks and riffs, turned into music that leaves you mouth wide open, hardly believing the sound in your ears. Keep It Like A Secret - the 4th BTS album - presents ten songs that for sure will make Built To Spill break big time, if there's - to stick to cliché s - still some justice in the sleazy popular music industry. Simply because the fourth album by the Martsch-collective is the perfect distillate of the Built To Spill pop-rock brew. "The plan keeps coming up again!", Martsch sings in the opening lines of the album, in the song The Plan. What plan, Doug, if not the one of giving the world a lecture of what rock should be like? And if you're still sitting when track four, Sidewalk flows out of the speakers, well, then you're a lost case with no heart and a blank soul. You can't help getting up on your toes, to sway and toss with the festive rhythm and sound. Bad Light is the closest they get to Nirvana, while they on Time Trap sort of travels back in time, almost to the 60's. Otherwise you can hear quite some 70's-inspired tracks, like You Were Right and Temporarily Blind. But what makes the songs so ace is the ability to twist and recycle "cliché s" into something completely staggering fresh sounding. The guitars sound excellent, cleverly played without being too clever and static. Despite flirting crazily with scope-rock, they manage to steer off and avoid the off-ground pomposity that could have been a possible trap. (Smashing Pumpkins, hello!?) In stead Built To Spill, with Keep It Like A Secret, rise and climb their way sky-high, and yet they manage to do so with both feet on the ground.

It's not that I'm begging for Built To Spill to become billion dollar sellers, for then to (most likely) get sucked and squeezed by the pressure and demands of mainstream rock show-biz. Well, anyway, I don't fear Doug and co. will loose their integrity and spoil their creativity and pure talent if so happens. And, yes it has to happen, stardom I mean, because amazing "secrets" like this is impossible to keep to remain like secrets forever.

Release date: February 1st (?) 1999.

Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Built To Spill article/review: You in Reverse.

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