Now Playing: Death Cab For Cutie|
By: Noah Brown
So, our indie-pop heroes Death Cab for Cutie have hit the big time- almost. In just a matter of hours from this writing, they're major label debut 'Plans' will be released on Atlantic records. For over half a decade, Death Cab churned out album after album of pure, Northwestern pop music for Seattle based Barsuk (pronounced ) Records, and more recently Benjamin Gibbard, singer and primary songwriter for Death Cab, gained semi-mainstream fame with his side project The Postal Service (which can be attributed, in part, to Zach Braff's inclusion of 'Such Great Heights' in his film, Garden State). After relentless touring, and a steadily growing fan base Atlantic Records saw fit to scoop 'em up and throw them in a fancy schmancy east-coast studio to cut their next record. Or, perhaps it was by choice that they decided to make the move eastward. Though, now with the backing of a label like Atlantic, Death Cab has a bit more cash and time at their disposal for the recording process. Gibbard assuredly states, however, that "The luxury of having a larger budget wasn't about spending $100,000 mixing with fancy Hit Factory mixers to get radio songs, but we knew if something wasn't right, we could afford to go back in the studio." and, as with past releases, keyboardist Chris Walla will be manned the mixing boards.
Death Cab For Cutie I can't help but think that Seth Cohen had a hand in Death Cab's sudden ascent to mainstream,suburban popularity. After he confessed his undying love for the band on The OC, their fan base seemed to multiply exponentially. That, of course, alienated many of the fans that lived under the impression that Death Cab was their band, their little secret that the rest of the world was missing out on. I'll admit that I was certainly taken aback when, early in the first season, Seth first name-dropped them. The naysayers may vehemently question "what does some major-network 90210 clone know about indie rock?!?". Seth even pokes fun at this mentality in an episode last season when he expresses to Ryan his astonishment that Bright Eyes had two albums in the top ten when he asks Ryan to "please tell me I'm still unique". The OC constantly pokes fun at the easily commodifiable "indie" look and mentality which Summer expressed wonderfully with her disgust for the elitist comic book nerds "playing retro-board games and drinking wine for fun and their dirty clothes they bought that way".
Death Cab For Cutie Death Cab for Cutie simply write damn good pop tunes. Listening to their albums and their progression I couldn't help but constantly think "man, if people just heard this stuff, if they got a little airplay, people would go nuts over them". With their last album, 'Transatlanticism' that was pretty much the case. On their most accessible, well polished effort to date they began to gain more exposure and their fan base exploded. Don't get me wrong- I loved 'Transatlanticism'. They still captured that Northwestern sound, and they seemed to pick up where the Stability EP left off, but it didn't strike me the way the earlier work did. Just as in their earlier albums the songs on 'Transatlanticism' still carried that restraint. The happier moments still had a feeling of desperation and seemed to hint at the sign of another breakdown, and Gibbard made sure use the darker, more serious moments sparingly, so to keep every moment relevant and just potent enough. The line they have been able to straddle, without straying from, for their entire career is what has constantly set Death Cab apart and solidified their position among indie-rock royalty. 'Transatlanticism' still captured that sound, it was just a more refined sound, with elements of The Postal Service scattered about. All in all, 'Transatlanticism' is a thoroughly enjoyable record that holds still holds its own two years after its release.