By Mitch Holt, Opinion Editor
Death Cab for Cutie
77/100 (Good, worth buying)
Death Cab for Cutie has covered so much musical ground in its five album career but has never ventured far enough away from the indie pop rock that its fans love to love for them to establish skeptics among these listeners.
The band’s fifth album, “Plans,” had me curious before I even listened to it. The quasi-veteran musicians, after four small-label releases, were releasing the new album on Atlantic. Had Gibbard and gang finally decided that they were sick of “mediocrity?” Why, after all these years of independence, were they signing with Atlantic?
“Plans” lyrically hints at loss and death, carrying a nostalgic aura throughout the 11 track album that is a solid listening experience no matter how you feel. Much of the music holds an upbeat musicality that would lead one to believe the song is a happy one, but, beneath the happy guitar melodies and poppy drum beats lie lyrics that speak of the aforementioned loss, inadequacy and death.
“Crooked Teeth,” track 11, portrays this description perfectly.
Ben Gibbard, the band’s lyrical brains, does nothing short of paint lyrical pictures with his melodies, carrying each lyric with a picturesque delicacy that, in the pop rock world, only he can do.
The lyrics that grabbed my attention instantly are the ones that decorate “What Sarah Said,” track nine. Much of the song is spent in a hospital ICU, waiting while a loved one is being treated and eventually passes away. The lyrics read, “And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself that I’d already taken too much today, as each descending peak of the LCD took you a little farther away from me.”
Brutal honesty like this is what makes Gibbard’s lyrics so grabbing and chilling. The song ends, “And I’m thinking of what Sarah said that love is watching someone die, so who’s going to watch you die?”
By far, my favorite track on the album and definitely on my list of favorite Death Cab for Cutie songs.
“Plans” has been much anticipated since the 2003 release of “Transatlanticism,” which resounded heavily among indie-loving kids and adults alike around the world. With an album as anticipated as this one, it usually has to grow on me. But “Plans”—I instantly liked it.
The album may sound joyful but is in reality one of the most mournful, reminiscent and bittersweet musical works I’ve ever heard. This 11-song compilation is chilling, musically and lyrically gratifying and one of the best indie albums to come out this year.