Return from the dead

May 18, 2008

Despite their place as one of my favourite bands back in my late uni days, Death Cab for Cutie lost my love around about the time I heard a song called “Expo ’86”.

Honestly, it’s not a bad song and even the rest of 2003’s Transatlanticism had some great moments. But it was lacking a secret ingredient that had made the earlier albums so extraordinary. Nothing they did in the subsequent four years quite won me back.

Ben Gibbard – Cath… (solo version)

Of course, Death Cab didn’t need my love. They were writing the songs they wanted to write, producing albums the way they wanted to produce them and selling them by the bucketload. So the news that the latest album, Narrow Stairs, has brought an old fan back will be of no importance to Ben Gibbard and Co.

The biggest difference is the return of the rock. The jittery guitars that are spread throughout the album remind me of how they used to be lumped in with Built to Spill by critics. The thundering drums remind me of how The Photo Album of 2002 was full of storming power-pop, rather than ballads.

It’s not perfect and some of the lyrics are uninspired and uninspiring. But songs like “Cath…”, “No Sunlight” and “Long Division” remind me of the Death Cab I used to love and can maybe love again.

Death Cab for Cutie – “No Sunlight”

Death Cab for Cutie – “Long Division”


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