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Saturday, May 03, 2008

On First Listen: Death Cab For Cutie's Narrow Stairs

I hate when people say 'at first glance' when they're talking about a record. Then again, I guess I've never heard anyone say that before, so good on ya people! You're saving me precious energy and wit.

Death Cab For Cutie returns in 2008 with their 8th full length studio effort, the latest since Plans, which opened the band up to the largest audience they've ever had. Well, that and Seth Cohen. What his character, and, in turn, The O.C. (and creator Josh Schwartz) did for the band may not be possible to quantify, but the proof is irrefutably there.

It almost makes me wonder if they were working hand-in-hand, and now Adam Brody is tasting the profits. In any event though, this record is pretty good for 2 simple reasons. First and foremost, it doesn't try and recreate Plans, or come off as a shoddier version of the record. I can't stand when bands put out b-sides and outtakes as if they were to take the place of a new album. Not to say the music is without merit, but it becomes clear within 2 or 3 songs if you're listening to a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot alternate versus something from A Ghost is Born. You get what I mean. Broken Social Scene's You Forgot it in People versus Feel Good Lost. That being said, this record is kind of a return for DCFC. It plays to me a lot like their first couple of albums before they really hit that signature sound they found on Transatlanticism.

The second reason I like this record is more of a general note than anything. Death Cab is basically at the top of the heap of the 'mainstream indie' scene. The band you expect to be headlining one of these obnoxious summer event. While this may not be their best record to date, I'm much happier knowing that people with less of an in depth musical knowledge are gravitating towards this sound. People think that music has died recently, but I think it's finally getting it's legs again. I anticipate 2008 to be chock full of fantastic releases from some of our favorite artists.

Finally, for the Death Cab haters out there, what can I say. If you don't like their other stuff, you won't like this. In my opinion, Plans is still their greatest (and most complete record). It shines as an archetype of what Death Cab is in their finest moments.

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