Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Cursory Listen to the New Death Cab For Cutie

First impressions are important when it comes to music. Often we make up our minds about a band or a record based on our first exposure to it in its totality. Sure we get a sense of the direction based on what comes out as a single or a snippet we here along the way, but it's not until we get a chance to absorb the whole record at once do we understand the intent of the musicians and the vision they have created.

In many ways, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, are a band out of place in this digital age. They were made for vinyl. Their music is of another time, when records were complete thoughts and not dissected into bits for mass consumption. In their earlier works, the band played with mood and tempo to create complete portraits. This was the apparent knock on "Plans", namely that it was to radio friendly and betrayed the image most people had of the band. So with "Narrow Stairs" the band returns to its roots/ But there is truth in the saying that you can't go home again. The attempt here to find a balance and it appears they may have done it.

"Narrow Stairs" has some truly impressive highlights (aside from the monumentally great single "I Will Possess Your Heart"). "Your New Twin Sized Bed" has the kind of infectious guitar line that has made Chris Walla a musical genius (for more proof check out his criminally overlooked solo record). "Long Division" and "No Sunlight" are pop creations that were made for summer radio play lists. Even the middle eastern influenced "Pity and Fear", which could have gone so wrong, seems to fit in the context of the record as a whole. Some of the slower material gets a bit repetitive (I've never been a huge fan of naval gazing, self loathing that is represented here by "You Can Do Better Than Me"). Overall, there is loose feel the album but with still a eye to some kind of larger scale success. Believe me, I have seen dozens of bands fail at finding this balance. I feel that this record puts Death Cab in the discussion as a band of a generation type of group. Lofty praise after only two listens but I feel this record is an easy contender for record of the year...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i haven't been able to stop playing it since it got it.

it is amazing.

and i am very tempted to go see them in a few weeks when they are out here in AZ.