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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Listen Up

2nd July 2008

Album review: Death Cab For Cutie, Narrow Stairs

Posted by: Kitten Power

death-cab.jpgThe nerdy-looking Seattle boys who became indie pioneers have created a ride from start to finish with their sixth studio album, Narrow Stairs.  It sounds like Death Cab For Cutie got together for a polished, intense jam session - and had more of a melodramatically-fun old time than they’ve had in their lives.

It is a self-indulgent soundtrack for down days, near break ups and unrequited love.  Just the thing to listen to when you are wrapped up warm indoors and drinking red wine.

It opens with Bixby Canyon Bridge, a tune about singer Ben Gibbard’s search for a connection with his idol, writer Jack Kerouac, but becomes a taunting look at disillusionment.  Gibbard apparently went to Bixby Canyon Bridge, where Kerouac wrote Big Sur, with the aim of writing music, but came away with little more than a frustrating case of writer’s block.

The second track, I Will Possess Your Heart hurtles through four and a half minutes of bass-driven instrumental, before Gibbard’s boy-next-door vocals burst in, to create an entire eight and a half minute ride that is more captivating than any average two minute radio-pop song.  It tells the tale of an obsessive desire to be with someone who has rejected all advances, with the pleading line:

“You got to spend some time, love . . . You got to spend some time with me . . . And I know that you’ll find love . . . I will possess your heart”

Narrow Stairs begins with an upbeat pulse, but quickly becomes mellower.  It is completely dripping with the sort of dark desperation that gives Death Cab For Cutie its wallowing edge. 

The fifth track Talking Bird really slows it down, but it’s a track I kept coming back to, for its intensity and the underlying message in the words.  The album finishes with the depressing The Ice Is Getting Thinner which compares the slow ending of a relationship to ice getting thinner beneath a couple.

While producer and guitarist Chris Walla describes Narrow Stairs as a curve ball - it’s one you’ll want to catch.  However if you haven’t listened to Death Cab For Cutie before, maybe start with their 2005 album Plans.

There are no songs that can knock I Will Follow You into the Dark off its perch as my favourite EVER Death Cab For Cutie track . . . but there are a couple which come almost close:

Stand out tracks: Bixby Canyon Bridge, I Will Possess your Heart, Talking Bird

Tags: General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Fanta // Jul 3, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I love Death Cab for Cutie! I always listen to them when I have some spare time to relax. It’s nice to have good tunes coupled with lyrics that have some stories and thought put in. Thanks for the review!

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