Death Cab for Cutie
Plans


3.5
great

Review

by Jeremy F STAFF
September 2nd, 2005 | 223 replies | 38,837 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


"Plans" comes on the heels of significant success and exposure for Death Cab For Cutie. As well as successfully putting out two critically aclaimed albums, "Photo Album," and "Transatlanticism," Death Cab's popularity exploded largely due to the best-selling side project of lead singer Ben Gibbard. The Postal Service's "Give Up" exposed Ben's voice to a larger audience, particularly with the hit 'Such Great Heights'. The result was increased exposure for Death Cab, who had formerly been a relatively behind the scenes band that nevertheless produced some pretty impressive music.

The increased fan base and national television exposure (The O.C.) generally served to increase the anticipation for "Plans". Exposure, which can be good for sales, can sometimes detriment a band in that if an album does not live up to expectations it is usually billed as 'mediocre', even if on its own, without any prior knowledge of the band, it could usually hold its own as a well-crafted and good album. In other words, what is good music in and of itself is not seen as good due to prior expectations of the band (note the reception of Coldplay's X&Y).

Although I have been a Death Cab fan for a few years, I was nevertheless eagerly anticipating this album. Unfortunately, I was dissapointed at first listen. Before even hearing the album, I had read several negative reviews. In addition, the single 'Soul Meets Body,' although decent, was not the kind of Death Cab tune that I had been expecting. Upon hearing the album for the first time, very few tracks stuck out, and the cohesive and well-crafted sense of "Transatlanticism" was missing. In "Plans," Death Cab generally abandons rough guitar/drum work and moves towards a more polished, electronic sound. This removes some of the 'edginess' from their music and tends to make a lot of the songs in the middle portion of the album blend together.

Some albums, however, can seem average or not particluarly noteworthy on the first listen, but gradually grow on you as you listen more and more. "Plans" is such an album. There are genuine Death Cab gems here that rank with some of their best work, particularly the driving and powerful "Marching Bands of Manhattan", and the immediate accessibility and indie pop catchiness of "Crooked Teeth" that brings to mind earlier Death Cab songs such as "The Sound of Settling". Although these tracks stand out the most easily, the album contains other peices of quiet songwriting that would fit in perfectly on the mellow albums "Transatlanticism" or "We Have The Facts and We're Voting Yes". 'Summer Skin', 'Brothers on a Hotel Bed', and in a lesser sense, 'What Sarah Said' are classic Gibbard word poetry with non traditional song movements and reflective keyboard tunes. In particular, every keyboard note in "Summer Skin", although simplistic, seems perfectly placed within the song. These tracks are not throw away filler, but genuinely crafted peices that bring a lot to the worth of this album.

The problem with "Plans," in relation to Death Cab's other work, is the relative lack of flow within the album. Previous albums could be listened to straight through, without any track skipping. But on Plans, Death Cab's poppier songs, such as 'Marching Bands', 'Soul Meets Body' and 'Crooked Teeth' don't seem to fit in with the rest of the album, which is generally reflective along the lines of Transatlanticism. It's almost as if Death Cab was taking its lessons from The Postal Service's success and gunning for a few big radio hits, and then set about to make an album around these songs. This album is almost two albums in one, with very different sides of the band revealed. Additionally, the truly uninspiring song "Different Names For The Same Thing" falls right in the middle of the album, and launches into an extended electronic section which should have been removed from the album entirely. Other songs, such as the 'Stable Song', try to create a stripped back form that's completely missing the atmosphere on their deeper tracks. A listener seeking continous enjoyment will have to skip around a bit, depending on mood.

In conclusion, this is a solid album that lacks some of the perfection that Death Cab fans have come to expect. Although full of some really great songs, both introspective and poppy, it presents a band not sure of which direction to follow. The result is confusing, and ultimately makes "Plans" a weaker album that its predecessors. Nevertheless, Plans, regarded on its own is an album worth picking up.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
_unknownST
September 2nd 2005



256 Comments


Who do these sound like?


mx
Moderator
September 2nd 2005



733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Death Cab sounds like itself- it's pretty unique. It's relatively mainstream indie.

Cross Out The Eyes
September 2nd 2005



42 Comments


If you like them then you try the shins
good review

Senor_Whippy
September 2nd 2005



367 Comments


Death Cab For Cuties sounds Emo Bye Bye!! (Sound of car driving away)

mx
Moderator
September 2nd 2005



733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What a pointless comment

masada
September 2nd 2005



2733 Comments


[quote=mx]What a pointless comment.[/quote]
And existence.


Med57
Moderator
September 2nd 2005



1001 Comments


Good review, although I personally think that Death Cab peaked with We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes. This is better than Transatlanticism, but I'd still give it between 3 and 3.5/5. Solid, but not as good as I think Death Cab are capable of.

EDIT: Senor~Whippy, I'd like to remind you that Damrod and I are cracking down on superfluous comments after things got ridiculous in the last couple of weeks. That means that you stay on topic and you follow the guidelines, i.e "relevant discussion of the music/review." I'm not asking for a Pulitzer Prize winning essay, but stuff like what you posted isn't needed. Thanks.This Message Edited On 09.02.05

mx
Moderator
September 2nd 2005



733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

We have the facts and We're Voting Yes is great, probably my third favorite behind Photo Album and Transatlanticism. I think it's a matter of personal preference based on what elements of Death Cab's music you like.

405, Company Calls are stellar

(>dragon~guitarist<)
September 6th 2005



243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

We Have The Facts And We're Voting NO to this mediocre album. Seriously, what happened??

br3ad_man
Emeritus
September 6th 2005



2125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like The Photo Album the best. I'm in no hurry to check this out but I'll get around to it soon.

Zmev
September 6th 2005



983 Comments


I prefer the Photo Album.

(>dragon~guitarist<)
September 7th 2005



243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Same here, Photo Album was much more thought out than Plans or Transatlanticism.

masada
September 8th 2005



2733 Comments


I like Transatlanticism the most. I don't think I will go anywhere near this album anytime soon, unless I find it cheap.

mx
Moderator
September 8th 2005



733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's not really as bad as some of you are making it out to be. Sure, its not as good as their other work, but it's not a bad album.

incubus62086
September 8th 2005



147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

eh, im a bit dissapointed in this album, not saying its bad tho, just not their best work. ill give it 3.5/5

masada
September 8th 2005



2733 Comments


That cover is ugly.

Arrakakaka
September 17th 2005



685 Comments


[quote=senor whippy]Death Cab For Cuties sounds Emo Bye Bye!! (Sound of car driving away)[/quote]
Just shut up you prick.

pika122689
October 9th 2005



15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not as bad as people say it is. I still like it a lot.

maddraven1716
October 31st 2005



14 Comments


This is the first and only DCFC cd i have listened to, seeing how the indie scene is starting to diminish, but I thought it was very good. One of my favorite songs is "I will follow you into the dark". It takes away the electronic and percussive sounds, leaving the listener with a raw, natural feeling that evokes the feelings of lonliness and love at the same time. The lyrics are also very note worthy, talking about how heaven and hell have both had there fill, and we are now left to be alone. It was a very well done song.

Two-Headed Boy
November 9th 2005



4527 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

yeah i saw a few reviews saying it was bad, but i love DCFC and this is a great album
i will follow into the dark is the best!
review is great too



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