“Emo” in the 1990s was a bit of a secret for a while. Kinda. I mean, emo was the transition out of 1980s “alternative” rock, which kept it somewhat under the radar. At some point emo became indie… And by some definitions you might call all that ’90s post-punk stuff emo or indie, but that just doesn’t do it justice anymore since it wasn’t long before emo became so cliche and basically a tag for, I dunno, clever post-soft-rock. There, I just made up a new genre: post-soft-rock. Keep it Like a Secret, however, wasn’t particularly soft at all — at least not most of it. It’s a jam rock album. Did you know that? Did you know that’s what started it? The band recounts:
DOUG MARTSCH: “Keep It Like a Secret, that was really collaborative. When we were working on Keep It Like a Secret, rehearsals were just us messing around and they weren’t structured.”
BRETT NELSON: “Keep It Like a Secret was just a lot of jamming and writing our own parts….”
SCOTT PLOUF: “We would just go in there and somebody would just start playing. And everybody else would try and figure out what to do.”
Not bad at all, considering the results. As one Rolling Stone reviewer wrote, “In short, Built to Spill — Martsch, bassist Brett Nelson and drummer Scott Plouf — make big music out of everyday mess.” And that mess resonates today as loudly – and a times as softly – as it did in 1999.
More about the album on Discogs.