Album: Narrow Stairs
Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
Welcome back! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and for those who don't celebrate, a happy holiday season. At #4 in our countdown, we've got Death Cab for Cutie, and their new album, Narrow Stairs. In my opinion, this is their best work since Transatlanticism, mixing their usual, mellow instrumentation with a brighter demeanor here. I may just be alone in that assessment of the sound however. Others have cited this as a record of despair, and darkness. I think the content reflects on aspects of life which one may wish could be redone in a different way. The sound in the background, to me at least, seems less melancholy than usual, but I suppose I'd agree that the lyrical content reflects on some more unhappy feelings that the band may be accustomed to. Regardless, people like this record. It was number one the week it was released, and has two Grammy nominations.
The album opens with the energetic disappointment of "Bixby Canyon Bridge". Here, as in many of the tracks, lead singer Ben Gibbard does reflecting about growing older and living his life, while his friends around him have families and can no longer hang out and do things as they used to. He's also expressing disappointment about an epiphany, involving Jack Kerouac, which never came. I think this is a pretty intense intro by Death Cab standards, but maybe it's just me. After this track, the album continues to roll. The eight-and-a-half minute stalker track, "I Will Possess Your Heart" provides a creepy, up-tempo and relaxing atmosphere- very good for a transition into the rest of the record. From there, each track is vintage Death Cab, slightly poppy tracks, all clocking in at times between three to four and a half minutes. The difference is that they are more polished than usual, but I don't find it to be a bad thing. The band hasn't really been that raw in a few albums, and the production quality here reflects upon their continued maturity as a band. For comparisons, check out Stars, Rogue Wave and Pedro the Lion.
Best Track: "No Sunlight"