Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Is Death Cab turning into a Hearse?
on October 14, 2005
As any Death Cab for Cutie fan (pre-"O.C." appearance) I had been anticipating the band's newest release, Plans, with high expectations. I was weary due to its first major-label release (Atlantic). Here, I'll explain my semi-disappointment.
The album clocks in at 44 minutes, which although about the same length as its well-received 2003 album, Transatlanticism (Barsuk), feels strangely short. I hear the potential for percussion wanderings in "Brothers on a Hotel Bed;" and "Different Names for the Same Thing" suddenly morphs into a Postal Service-like rendition of itself while I would rather hear the first part, a crackly old-timey piano tune, embellished on.
Having known this band's full ability to take a song somewhere you never thought it would go - it took me at least a few listens to wrap my head around the melded group of "Tiny Vessels," "Transatlanticism," and Passenger Seat;" feeling as if they could be chapters in a monumental flow-of-consciousness book - I am left to wonder why Death Cab didn't push many of the songs on Plans further. The un-blossoming "Your Heart is an Empty Room," "Someday You Will Be Loved," and "Stable Song" (which was previously called "Stability" on The Stability EP and lasted over 12 minutes) sit mostly half-ready, maybe hastily written.
The high points of the album come when Ben Gibbard's lyricism and the band's song crafting meet: on "What Sarah Said," Gibbard repeats in a half-cry, half-whine, "so who's gonna watch you die?", and on "Summer Skin," he simply states, "then Labor Day came and went, and we shed what was left of our summer skin."
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" is a possibly perfect song in any music snob's book, but the saddest part is not the haunting lyrics of death; rather, it's that this is a Ben Gibbard song (vocals+acoustic guitar), not Death Cab for Cutie. It only makes me more interested to check out his split solo EP (with Andrew Kenny).
I can't say this album is bad; it has catchy hooks and all that. But I can say it's disjointed, and a bit lackluster. I guess I'll wait for another side project to come out, to find other pieces of the Death Cab I used to know.