CD Review: Death Cab for Cutie

Don’t let the name scare you – Death Cab for Cutie is a steadily growing indie band best known for their lead singer’s superb vocals. You may recognize his voice from the song “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service. Or maybe you’ve heard the tune “Ba baa, this is the sound of settling,” on the OC. The Washington-based, indie-pop quartet has come a long way. Originally, Death Cab was singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard’s solo project – whose initial underground success led him to recruit a band. Gibbard’s unique and catchy voice clearly separates Death Cab from most alternative rock. Some call it emo, though while the music is nothing short of emotional, Death Cab’s cleaner sound distinguishes it from the norm. Sound familiar? If not, I suggest you treat yourself to some of Gibbard’s music, specifically his newest album. Plans, released August 30th, opens with a captivating tune and figurative lyrics. The first song, “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” starts with a string of poetic language and continues strong with lines such as: “Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole.” It was perfect until it ended abruptly with a ding. The ding didn’t fit – it cut off both the melodic rhythm and the lyrics. This disappointment is quickly forgotten when track two begins its steady beat. Death Cab’s most publicized new song, “Soul Meets Body,” is one of their best. With lyrics such as “In my head there’s a greyhound station/Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations,” Gibbard sings his best, combining his poetry with rich “ba da ba da ba bas” to create a top-notch pop-rock tune. “Soul Meets Body” wins my vote for best of the album. Other notable tracks include “Someday You Will Be Loved” which contains some powerful bass as well as the ever so catchy “Crooked Teeth.” Finding the balance between poetry and catchiness, Death Cab concocts lyrics such as “You can’t find nothing at all if there was nothing there all along.” and “Cause I built you a home in my heart/with rotten wood/it decayed from the start.” I’ll let those few speak for themselves. The CD finishes in something of an anticlimactic ending with “Brothers In A Hotel Bed.” While it’s not quite as good as their 2001 release, The Photo Album, Plans is much better than 2004’s Transatlanticism. Plans does the job, submitting the same style Death Cab has always had, but with deeper meaning and a tighter sound. Plans is an album that will either bring them out of the underground music scene, or lead them to public rejection. Are they good enough to be heard across the world? You decide.