Beloved rockers embark on ‘Keep it Like a Secret’ 20th anniversary tour

Music geeks like to fight over whether indie-rock stalwart Built to Spill’s best album is the band’s 1996 major label debut, Perfect from Now On, or 1999’s Keep it Like a Secret. I’ve always been partial to Perfect, but it’s probably only because I heard that one first. You really can’t go wrong with either one. 

The band’s current tour, which stops at the Athenaeum Theatre on Monday, July 1, celebrates the 20th anniversary of Keep it Like a Secret, a Phil Ek-produced album that took frontman Doug Martsch’s guitar heroics and didn’t rein them in as much as it focused them into shinier, tidier packages, though still with enough tattered edges to keep things interesting.

Former Alive staffer Chris DeVille said it best in a Keep it Like a Secret 20th anniversary essay on Stereogum: “In sound and substance, these songs are a platonic ideal for a stridently indie band scaling up to the majors: always critiquing the status quo, self-aware enough to indict the messenger too, yet unashamed to make the delivery system sparkle with the best polish job money can buy.”

In 2015, Built to Spill released Untethered Moon, which led off with the track “All Our Songs.” “All our songs, back before I even remember/I like all those old songs, sound like they’ve been here forever,” Martsch sings, mirroring what so many Built to Spill fans also feel: It’s hard to imagine life as a rock fan without all these songs. (Don’t miss it)