Death Cab For Cutie – Transantlanticism

Looking over that “The Photo Album” review I feel genuinely embarrassed.  I hope that’s what being twenty is about, because if it’s not…I’m even more upset at culture today than usual.  Last night I watched this documentary on “Stupidity” that tried to be all cool and counter-culturist, and part of its act was wondering why there are never any serious inquiries into stupidity, adding that all pop culture books or shows on the subject are like “The Darwin Awards” just give us lots of examples of stupid people and don’t give us any new knowledge.  Which would be a valid, fairly interesting point if the rest of the documentary didn’t go on to do nothing but show us examples of stupid people and have educating messages like “intentional stupidity” or “imbecile” flash across the screen, as if we wouldn’t be aware what we had just changed.  Changed?  I meant watched.  Don’t know where that came from.

Angst!  Last night I made a bad policy decision and opted to hang out with my 38 year old housemate instead of attending my friend Josh’s party.  I missed a good party and for what?  To hear about how I’m young and cocky and how this guy thinks about suicide?  Ugh.  This might be my last summer in Toronto [ed: it wasn’t] and I miss those old school house parties so much.  Should’ve gone.  Should’ve should’ve should’ve gone.  My girlfriend could’ve come too…ugh.  How could I have missed both my Toronto friends’ biggest party and my Guelph friends’ biggest party this summer?  Don’t I want to make friends?  Keep them? I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Hmm.  Well, anyway!

Death Cab for Cutie.  Not exactly a band you go around telling your friends about and all that, but one that are always at least tolerable when you’re listening to them, and they occasionally come up with something really worth listening to.  The main problems are:

1) Every song is about relationships.  Not that these aren’t important – they are.  But…Sometimes 50 minutes of it can be tough to swallow.  Especially when…

2) Nearly every song is slow and plodding, or at least brooding.  Being melancholy all over the curtains and bedframe.  Only two of the songs here show signs of life, and unsurprisingly those (bombastic, pretentious opener “The New Year” and smartly short “The Sound Of Settling”) are two of the best songs on here.  Not that those are the ONLY good songs on here – “Title and Registration” and “Expo ’86” should be singles too.  Why “Tiny Vessels” was the second single I’ll never know.  The rest of the album (which includes the last 28 minutes) seems like a lot of slow filler and while I’m sure it isn’t…Slow piano tinkler “Passenger Seat”, eight minute crawler (*title track*) and pretention-a-thon “We Looked Like Giants” just aren’t doing it for me.  Plus, the first five songs set a standard likes this is going to be the Death Cab’s crowning achievement, so it’s a shame seeing them return to Something About Airplanesville.  Not that SAA was that bad or anything.

Some good lyrics here.  Especially from the first five songs.  Let’s see some in print!

From “The New Year” – “I wish the world was flat like the old days / When I could travel just by folding a map” or “Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn / As thirty dialogues bleed into one”.

From “Title And Registration” – “There’s no blame for how our love did slowly fade / And now that it’s gone it’s like it wasn’t there at all / And here i rest where disappointment and regret collide”

I likes how “The Sound Of Settling” is about things just being okay too – that’s the usual state of things in our lives, most aspects of them at least, most of the time.  Why are all the songs about things being great or terrible?  I guess because it’s superficially more interesting that way.

So it’s another just good album.  These guys are consistent like that – but you just know they could be consistently better than consistently just pretty good.  Hopefully a major label will show them the way!



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