Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

I take it back; I’m gonna stay together with girlfriend after all. If that had been a solid album, full of sad odes to loneliness then I might have ended it all out of fealty. But as it is, nah, being taken is a good deal. Slightly understood as a human being, having regular sex, idly chasing threesomes, life is better this way if Gibby and co. aren’t gonna deliver. I don’t need the new girl!
It’s not abjectly bad, but in this lovely world of honesty through Mumford and Sons and such, I don’t have much room for expression through keyboard-led soft rock that scorns direct expression, at least not from a band like DCFC. Back when they sang about how their girlfriends had issues and were almost famous I loved the manic appreciation of the big trouble relationships could be. With reckless abandon they used to sing about the good girl and all the real girls and it was made personal by biting lyrics and elf guitars. Now that seems mostly gone, lost in a sea of slow builds to nothing.
I hope the whole thing isn’t a eulogy for DCFC’s career. The whole album suffers from a failure to launch. Despite the band’s California origins, the thing plays like a winter’s passing. The surf’s up, in other words. Gibby sounds like a tin man, not singing about the issues. The wonderful wizard of oz may be behind the album’s curtains, but aside from single “You Are A Tourist” the whole thing sounds like a bridge to terabithia.
It may be the happening for the band that makes them reconsider their artistic future, and I hope it isn’t this. It isn’t gigantic. Yes, man, it’s too soft and bereft of the feel I remember. The band’s past was indeed 500 days of summer, but the lyrics cut the joy with sober relationship realities. Now bones are clear white gleaming, and your highness Gibby is left without affecting stories to tell. I guess we’ll have to wait for the new girl. Nope, didn’t already say that one.
“St. Peter’s Cathedral” is pretty good too.

5/10

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Death Cab For Cutie – Dear Boy EP

I’m sure your fans just love when you send them two song CDs with side A being an unmemorable Paul McCartney cover? Are you trying to tell us Paul was your favourite Beatle? Because everyone knows our hearts belong to only Ringo.

Side B is a live, almost note-for-note cover of “I Will Possess Your Heart” that has a nice buzzy guitar and loud bass but Ben’s vocals sound like he has something in his t’roat or he just has FAT in his throat. This fat fucking pig is disgusting. smells, sweats steak fat from his head. Just look at that soiled throat. No, he probably just saw a fat audience member. How is she so fucking sweaty already. It’s song 2 of the show. Is she so fat that she sweats just waiting in line for a shitty Mike’s Hard Lemonade? I’m supposed to be impressed that they cheer for the lead single? What percentage of DCFC fans do you suppose are fat? I’ve known a couple hot ones, but the songs, especially the bland lovey ones, just scream fatbeast. Of course, a lot of the songs, like the ones about losing friends as they get older or taking interest in anything other than themselves are things that fatties can not understand, but the tubbier among us have been known to ignore amazing things in order to live out their musical wish fulfillment. Eh, this EP isn’t really for me. Release another album!

4/10 

Death Cab For Cutie – The Open Door EP

I love EPs more than I love candyfloss and pigeondolls, for they further the cause of finding additional wonderful songs by artists j’adore, but sometimes I really realize my love for the sillyness that it is: a mostly fruitless, expensive quest that is probably more about appealing to my sense of completion and compulsiveness, because EPs and singles usually consist of songs that aren’t worth all the effort they require. This here EP illustrates my internal debate: there’s six songs here – four new, one an acoustic demo, and one from the last album, and they’re all pretty good. But none of them are truly satisfying. None of these will end up on even a mental mix tape and it’ll be a long struggle to keep any of them on my computer at all. Is the line “All my friends are forward-thinking / Getting hitched and quitting drinking” worth a whole otherwise-blah song called “I Was Once a Loyal Lover”? Is that neat-o pop-rock groove of “Little Bribes” worth having heard the song ten times and not knowing much else about it? Is the cuteness of “Talking Bird (Acoustic Demo)” worth the awfully simplistic metaphor and the part where he rhymes “in a house” with “in a house”? Did I misjudge “Grapevine Fires,” or is it just comparatively good in context?

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

Here’s a list of some other people I hate at the gym, for those who remember my first happy list:

6. People who hang their goggles or manpurses on the towel hooks by the showers: look, there are fucking eight hooks that have good real estate. The rest are by the whirlpool, where you have to walk past the old men bathing in each other’s filth and their disgusting puddles in the floor divets and where your towels are vulnerable to theft. So. Assholes: those hooks are not for your non-towel and therefore non-essential items. Consider a parking lot downtown right by an office building that only has eight spots in it. Would it be polite for people to reserve a space by leaving their umbrellas in the spots? Yes, I realize it’s sort of the fault of the gym for allowing it as policy, but they’re just naive. It’s the assfuckholes who take advantage who should be beaten and spat on as they lie bleeding.

7. The participants of the blowjob in the steam room that I read about on craigslist: GAH. Look, gay men are cute and all, but this is a public place, and as far as I’m concerned you have sullied the steam room for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Jesus Christ, that means I could walk in and be interrupting a beej with unattractive people, or a post-beej puddle of cum and steam on the floor. Sad face

8. Me: I hate myself.

9. The guys who lift like three different sets of weights at the same time.:One at a time, assholes that I hate! Made much worse because I don’t lift heavy weights here (I’m really not much of a person), so it’s not like I can easily substitute. Looking at you, Japanese guy who I just know watches Anime.

10. Anybody who talks to me while I’m obviously listening to music: with the exception of people I know, there’s absolutely no excuse. None. And every time it’s something stupid like “doing some running, huh?” Yeah, I was trying to. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.

6/10

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

Random “hilarious” thought of the minute: “Christopher” would be way funnier if it were spelled “Christougher.”  eh? EH??

Well, my work here is done!

*Puts review online, masturbates furiously, weeps with equal fury*

What the fuck? Out of nowhere, Death Cab For Cutie have decided to change up the sound! The lyrical content is still the same (every song deals with some vagary or parable or story of romantic love), but never before have they sounded so much a bunch of guys that wear tight shirts to show off their arm muscles. It’s sort of admirable; that they’d develop what their music looks like so late into their career. Is it a sign that aging doesn’t need to be feared? A third-life crisis gone right?

The slow songs are outnumbered by the loud ones. The lead single is eight and a half minutes long, completely unnecessarily, since the first half of the song is a jam based on the normal sized pop song that follows, that has (good) a fab eight-million note bass hook that I could listen to over and over again (and lucky me, I get to do so for eight and a half minutes!), but a really awkward title and subject matter (“I Will Possess Your Heart” and being all stalkery, respectively). Still, it beats the hell of releasing a song about a one-winged angel or some expected crap like that, no? Yes. “No Sunlight” is even about general unhappiness! “Cath…” has an ellipsis in the title! How did I fall back into casually describing individual songs again? Look, some moments here are just embarrassing (one song has a totally silly tabla in it – haha!), and a lot of the songs do the DCFC thing where they spent all their interesting music on other songs, and the last song is called “The Ice Is Getting Thinner” – why not mention how love is a rose and the sky isn’t falling and you are a bird? – but they’re trying new things here, and that’s rather nice to know. Sadly, the goodness is about used up by tracks 2-4, and it’s all pretty meh from there.

And THAT’S IT. These guys are from Portland Oregon or some shit and when they went batshit crazy we fucked and fucked them and glossed it over and broke the god damned bonds and now they’re waiting and singing and they saw you and it isn’t right and nobody listens you fat, fat, fat, filthy, disgusting, gluttonous hog, you, you, every day I wake up and I’m myself. I will never be able to attend a party where I am not in attendance. Every single day I will wake up be myself and that’s it. There I am. My thoughts will always be my thoughts and I cannot for a second have anyone else’s. I can never look in a mirror and see anybody but the same one person I’ve always seen. The same height, the same issues, the same forehead, it doesn’t matter. I once straightened my hair for a whole year and it didn’t change anything.

This album is called Narrow Stares and it was grate to meat it. No, you’re trying to be funny. No you. No. You. No, no no. No. Stop it. Stop.

A high 6.

6/10

Death Cab For Cutie – Plans

You know what? These guys are pretty good. I liketh these guys. I liketh them a loteth. This is all, like, the major label debut, and you know why it’s good? Because they’re SMART. They have new production techniques available, but they don’t misuse them. Oh sure, there’s the occasional sound in one speaker kinda cheesy-like, and one song features two minutes of Ben sounding like he’s on the other end of a phone (kinda like The Strokes do on every single song), but it’s tasteful enough to not ruin anything. So we’re left to enjoy song after song of clean acoustic guitar, slow-ish tempos, and lyrics that all pertain to love and relationships in some way or other. It makes my inner 17 year old girl very, very happy. Probably because she’s not a dumb bitch idiot System Of A Down fan. Man, that band sucks. Hey, I’m the lead singer! *weird noises* Vaguely anti-commercial sentiment followed by paean to buy album! *band gets all “hardcore,” by which they mean mid-tempo but ugly sounding, looking*

This album has it all, if all there is is this album! I suppose there’s less whining about past breakups? Instead there’s more furtiveness and sadness, with pleasant filler to mind the gaps. Very little spectacular stuff, but I’m partial to the plaintive NYC-dropping slow-building opener ‘Marching Bands of Manhattan,” obvious hit single “Soul Meets Body,” “where soul meets spottyyyyyyy! choiry remembering of past dickishness “Someday You Will Be Loved,” lovably sad loved-one-dying-in-a-hospital long song “What Sarah Said,” and of course the one straight-up love song here, acoustic centerpiece “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” (and you can tell they know it’s good). Honestly, the rest of the songs kinda fade away immediately after I hear them, but if you’re listening to a band like Death Cab looking for constant activity you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s an album for nighttime bus rides and walking home from your lover’s house at eight in the morning. And if you’re not doing those things (probably because you’re fat), then at least “What Sarah Said” is a great song to put on repeat while you eat a whole jar of Tostitos’ Con Queso Dip.

Also, many songs on here would make for good titles of porn movies: “Summer Skin” and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” in particular. Make it happen, kids!

Also, “Brothers on a Hotel Bed” really sucks after the first minute.

7/10

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!

7/10

Death Cab For Cutie – We Laugh Indoors

When you think “Death Cab For Cutie” you think “slighty altered version of three album tracks!”  Don’t lie.  Like on mushrooms I know you do.

But they’re great album tracks.  The “new mix” of “We Laugh Indoors” isn’t all that different from the original, but that doesn’t stop it from being catchy and have a cool bridge, as well as a stupid “I loved you Guinevere, I loved you Guinevere, I loved you” lyric like three times.  “For What Reason” is alternately mixed as a nearly identical song with the same title but a 50 second keyboard intro (exciting!), and “I Was A Kaleidoscope” is still great as a slightly sped-up live version.  So it’s all okay, but nothing worth a lot of money.  Also, don’t ask what was up with the above paragraph.  It was last night and I was very drunk.  I still feel kinda drunk now too.  Ugh.

7/10