Death Cab For Cutie

Atlantic Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


When it comes to indie bands, few things can signify a downward spiral more quickly than switching to a major record label. But to the chunk of Death Cab For Cutie's fan base griping about the band selling out, they might be better suited to stewing with earlier releases and leaving the rest of us to enjoy Plans.

Usually, I find myself avoiding bands so thoroughly hyped (in Death Cab's case, by constant name-checking on the mind-bogglingly popular The OC), if only because for the most part, that hype always seems to eclipse the album itself. But the slick, almost-reminiscent-of-R.E.M. first single "Soul Meets Body" proved that the band were Seth Cohen's standby for a reason, and its instant likeability is why I can forgive the fact that it's permanently lodged itself in my head.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For the most part, Plans, Death Cab For Cutie's fifth album, retains the best of the band's previous efforts, just with more polished production. It relies heavily on low-key, acoustic tracks, and forgoes the typical rocker single with the opener, "Marching Bands of Manhattan." It's an impressive lead-in, featuring a few of my favorite lyrics committed to music: "Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole / Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound / But while you debate half empty or half full / It slowly rises; your love is gonna drown". And by the time you've reached the second track, the aforementioned "Soul Meets Body," you're already ingrained into Plans as it flows along.

The next few tracks are gems as well: "Summer Skin," the soft ode to lost summer love with its military snare to contrast and "Different Names For The Same Thing," which both succeed largely due to the quiet force of their lyrics. After returning from his side project, The Postal Service, lead singer and songwriter Ben Gibbard does what he does best, fusing ever-present themes of unrequited love and loss into his sincere, relatable lyrics. The best evidence of this? The stark, somber "I Will Follow You Into The Dark," which relies solely on Gibbard's voice and acoustic guitar to relay the inevitability of death.

"Crooked Teeth" is the closest to a rock song that Death Cab For Cutie attempt; upbeat and immediately catchy, it's easy to see why it was chosen as the follow-up single. Following that is one of my favorites, "What Sarah Said" and its definitive lines, "I'm thinking of what Sarah said, that 'Love is watching someone die' / So who's going to watch you die?...". After all, most of us can relate somewhere to the similar hospital scene the band paints, or at least the loss of a loved one.

On Plans, Death Cab For Cutie prove themselves deserved of their hype, a feat many bands can't claim to have achieved. They've created an album that's not only likeable, but one that I've found to be irremovable from my stereo weeks after my first spin of it.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2006 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.