You could be forgiven for never having heard of indie rock band Built to Spill. In fact, it’s almost expected that you haven’t. The band features only one permanent member; hails from Boise, Idaho; lacks any true radio hits; and has released only one album this decade.
But now, as the age of nostalgia and retrospective think pieces marches on, 2019 has brought with it endless 20th-anniversary album lists, and the many “Best Albums of 1999” compilations cropping up seem to have reminded people of Built to Spill.
The 1999 album basking in all that retrospective praise is Built to Spill’s magnum opus, Keep It Like a Secret. Released on the major label Warner Brothers, the album was successful both critically and commercially but didn’t elevate the band to any modicum of stardom. Two decades later, the oft-forgotten but much-adored record is treated as a sort of buried treasure.
The album is the last of a near-flawless trilogy from the Boise band, and the trio of records consisting of There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, Perfect From Now On, and Keep It Like a Secret has long inspired debate among fans as to which reigns supreme as Built to Spill's greatest. Though Perfect From Now On has its share of defenders, Keep It Like a Secret is generally considered to be frontman Doug Martsch's defining achievement.
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The record features Martsch’s most accessible lyricism and songwriting, with hooks to spare and endlessly lush guitar tones throughout its ten tracks. Its jangly, reverb-drenched guitars play off each other sublimely. Martsch’s sense of melody was at its most pure and uninhibited during the creation of Secret. The band used the full capabilities of its major-label recording contract to create a massive-sounding, incessantly listenable album that still stands up 20 years later.
Now, two decades removed from Keep It Like a Secret's release, the band is taking a much-deserved victory lap and is in the midst of a massive tour celebrating what fans affectionately refer to as the “bee girl” album because of its album art. With nearly 100 dates in the U.S. alone, the jaunt is a massive undertaking for a band that is no stranger to extensive touring.
Saturday, October 12, Built to Spill makes its lone South Florida stop on the Keep It Like a Secret Tour at Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room. The band knows the venue well, as this will be the group’s fifth show there in the last ten years. Though most of the songs on Secret have already been performed in this venue at some point in the last decade, the show provides a can’t-miss opportunity to see a truly classic album performed live in its entirety.
Built to Spill. With Prism Bitch and the Pauses. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 12, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $25 via ticketmaster.com.