Built to Spill, Keep It Like a Secret (Warner Bros.)

builttospill-keepitlikeasecretIt’s always encouraging when a band keeps getting better. Doug Martsch and crew have managed to grow in new directions on every release while retaining an individual style.

Built To Spill’s latest album, Keep It Like a Secret is just as enjoyable as Perfect From Now On and There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, if sounding different. Keep It Like a Secret finds the band returning the shorter ‘pop’ song format of There’s Nothing Wrong after the guitar epics of Perfect…. There on epics here, but they are more about mood than instrumentation.

The opener ‘Plan’ releases such a grandiose open feeling in its guitars and ‘ahhahh’ voices that the listener is entranced by the final almost-whispered verse. Throughout the album, Doug’s voice retains its fragility even as he finds more confidence. ‘Center of the Universe’ and ‘Sidewalk’ display an off-kilter pop sense that is executed with such skill that it leaves no doubt as to why every young indie band is mocking Built To Spill these days. even ‘Else’s melancholia is infectious.

Every song, despite the layers of guitars, sounds open, almost orchestral. There is a feel on this record that this is a band, where on past releases it sometimes felt like Doug’s guitars and session musicians.

If there’s anything bad about this album it’s that you might not get to the last songs since you keep wanting to rewind the first ones.

-ta