Not like a secret anymore

The cover of 1999's Keep It Like a Secret

The cover of 1999's Keep It Like a Secret

This might have been more relevant back on February 2, but I don’t care because I’m still attempting to pick my jaw off the floor. Built to Spill’s 1999 album, Keep It Like a Secret, is ten years old. About a decade ago, on February 2, 1999, the Warner Bros. label put out a 45-minute-and-then-some-long album by a group of unlikely pop balladeers from Washington (meaning beards before beards were a thing). But there’s a lot that’s been said about Built to Spill and this album. The only original thing I can tell you about is how the work has accompanied me.

I first heard the jarring introductory strains of “The Plan” after I moved into my first real-live adult apartment in Santa Cruz. I often thought of the daily activities of my life – waking up early, going to work, running after the spitting six-year-old, fixing dinner, squashing the legions of ants in the kitchen – in fast forward with “Center of the Universe” and its infectious drumbeat as the events’ soundtrack. When I left my college town and moved to my first real-live city, the twangs of “Sidewalk” soared up and down the hills with me. The subtle swell of “Else” and its ambivalent lyrics about love sang me to sleep as I brooded over my first real-live adult relationship. And as I ride the bus home from my job in Portland now, Keep It Like a Secret still strikes me as it always has. It is the perfect pop album, full of catchy hooks and lyrics that leave a mark long after the last whistles of “Broken Chairs” have sounded. If pop music is supposed to tell the simplified tale of our day-in, day-out existences, our quiet triumphs and devastations and mental landmine fields we dart across (or don’t), this Built to Spill album should be on the required listening list of every adult. Needless to say, I had a really hard time selecting a single song to showcase here. I chose “You Were Right,” a celebration of past pop songs as much as it is an indictment 0f pop music.

  • Built to Spill ~ Keep It Like a Secret ~ Warner Bros.

You Were Right

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1 Response to “Not like a secret anymore”


  1. 1 Danielle March 5, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    That really is a great pop song. 🙂


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