A few months ago, I was called gay for wearing a Death Cab for Cutie
shirt in public, a moment as shocking as it is telling. Thanks to Plans
, a record I actually like and obviously their biggest-selling best-known album, and the OC
, the average American thinks Death Cab are a bunch of pussies. At the same time, the indie elitists who loved their early work cajole them for "selling out" with a major label and a shiny, hooky album like Plans
. Therein lies the rub. The last 3 years has been a building battle of expectations. New fans wanting another Plans
, old ones wanting a return to The Photo Album,
and the people who don't give a damn making fun of the people who do. Needless to say, Narrow Stairs
is going to leave at least one of those groups disappointed.
And, not to get all age-ist on you, but that group will probably be the bright-eyed and fickle high school crowd who pushed Plans
above over a million copies sold. Armed with an 8-minute-plus single, Ben Gibbard & Co. are serving notice that this record will be an immediate departure from their sugar-coated ways of recent past. And by committing this record to analog tape, they limited the amount of things that could be done to it in post-production, thus forcing them to get the sounds they wanted in the studio and put down a helluva take for each song. Which they did.
is not the Photo Album
, though the beginning of "Long Division" does sound strikingly similar to "We Laugh Indoors". It's no Plans
either, though the opening "Bixby Canyon Bridge" does feel like a rougher-edges take on "Marching Bands of Manhattan" but definitely spirals off the handle over the final two minutes. It's no Transatlanticism
, though "Your New Twin Sized Bed" does remind me of a slightly slower "Title and Registration". None of these similarities take away from this record, it actually serves as glue. This is a band, making the music they want to make, and doing it their way. This is a band that has history with me, history with you, history with themselves. This is their way of addressing it. This is Back to the Future
, Death Cab style.
Watch an amazing documentary on the making of Narrow Stairs on Current TV
[from Narrow Stairs