Back to the Future: Narrow Stairs

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.

Narrow Stairs
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.

Grapevine Fires
[from Narrow Stairs|buy]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you really call that single-afternoon interview an "amazing documentary?"

10:44 AM  
Blogger drewcif said...

I thought it was really insightful. It's obviously not a full-length film or anything, but I found it 25 minutes well spent, and of all the interviews and insights I've seen about this album, this one was the best put together with the best information, etc.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Rivo said...

I obviously don't understand this band at all. Insult for pussies to call them pussies really. Should have known by their name. And I gave them an hour of my time on the Hype M (most searched artists there currently???), since I was playing a game and couldn't switch to something else in between, and am so pissed right now. Would rather listen to Bon Jovi than to this uninspiring mix of pathetic lyrics, adolescent singing and flat untalented massacre of annoying music. They completely destroyed my evening! If there is any justice in this world they will stay anonymous forever. Rubbish, I feel betrayed and didn't even pay to hear them.

4:15 PM  
Blogger drewcif said...

Are you from America? Do you like Godsmack?

10:02 PM  

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