Death Cab for Cutie
We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (105 Reviews)
May 17th, 2011 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Death Cab For Cutie- a retrospective

Think back to a time when not everyone had heard of Death Cab For Cutie, back when "the berets" conversed about the band in hushed tones so that no one could overhear them and Death Cab would, in theory, remain as just another garage band. They had a right to be so protective for once, Death Cab's acceptance into the mainstream has made them, if we're honest, rather bland. Oh sure, since their recognition (which is well deserved just... unfortunate) they've spewed out some flashes of greatness here and there but it's clear that to some extent Death Cab are past it. Take front-man Benjamin Gibbard's side project "The Postal Service" as an example, it resulted in a truly phenomenal album that shows what he really can achieve but none of that greatness has been glimpsed in the more recent Death Cab albums.

So what have Death Cab lost since "We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes"? In a word, heart. That doesn't really tell you anything of course, it's the kind of thing you're more accustomed to hearing in children's cartoons or in the second Indiana Jones film, but hopefully I'll be able to justify it.

"We Have The Facts..." paints a picture of a drab Americana, full of one-off meetings, degrading friendships and lust over a girl about to marry someone else. It's not a happy picture, but it sure as hell is a believable one. I'm not sure if Gibbard intended his lyrics to transform what may have been a good, but otherwise slightly lacking album into a concept album, but they do anyway. It's not simply a random collection of songs presented to us in "We Have The Facts", but a peep-hole into Gibbard's life, something that isn't achieved at all in the more recent albums. Though to argue against myself I'd suggest that a life of tour buses and B-list fame may not be the most compelling writing material.

The lyrics that Gibbard incorporates in his album (and it is "his" album, he wrote all but two of the songs) are all that you can ask them to be: both witty and charming yet slightly depressing. He makes references to events but allows the listener to fill in the details. The chorus in "Title Track" of "Talking how the group had begun to splinter/ And I could taste your lipstick on the filter" showcases this perfectly. He's not a songwriter who's afraid to show his less than graceful moments, "Crashing through the parlour doors, what was your first reaction?/ Screaming, drunk, disorderly. I'll tell you mine", and this frankness on his part makes "We Have The Facts" a lot more genuine and easy to relate to than it would be otherwise.

If there is a criticism to be made about "We Have The Facts", it's that the band stays within the genre of calming indie-pop and doesn't even attempt to vary its tone. It can be upbeat, slow and most places in between but in the end it's safe. Some salvation is found in the fact that the tone which the album sticks with does complement the lyrics' subject matter, but this doesn't explain why there couldn't have been one or two songs in a different style. That isn't to say that there aren't some highlights musically of course, "Little Fury Bugs" brilliantly mixes quiet background distortion and slightly muzzled vocals with a fairly jaunty guitar part, it's just that it would have been nice if a little more variation was incorporated into the album.

It's sad that when you look at the newer Death Cab albums you see that musically they've come a long way from "We Have The Facts", which is ultimately quite simple though there is a beauty in that. However, while the music has improved, the feel has not. Newer additions seem too clean, too heavily mastered, too manufactured... the fuzzy tones of "We Have The Facts" are preferable to that every day of the week. When you add the lyrics that have long dissolved into made-up tales and petty social observations, it's disturbing to think that while gaining popularity, they've lost a lot of what made them so special in the first place.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Anyone up for providing feedback? Don't go out of your way to do it though unless it's terrible :P



wabbit
May 17th 2011


7020 Comments


is this out?

Ire
May 17th 2011


41820 Comments


Ranking: #115 for 2000

Kris.
May 17th 2011


12425 Comments


hahahhahaha

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeh this is an old one, I figured I'd go ahead and listen/review it since the new one is out in just under two weeks.

Eko
May 17th 2011


2119 Comments


I have only heard Transatlanticism and post-Transatlanticism Death Cab... maybe I should change that. awesome review too, especially for only your 4th.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2011


17224 Comments


great cd.

demigod!
May 17th 2011


45003 Comments


never listened to these guyss

Digging: Autechre - LP5

demigod!
May 17th 2011


45003 Comments


good review btw

wabbit
May 17th 2011


7020 Comments


oops my bad.



StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Eko, you should, I'd also recommend "You Can Play These Songs With Chords", it's got a few dud songs on it but makes up for it by having some of their best songs on it too ("Wait", "Army Corps of Architects" and a pretty nice cover of The Smith's "This Charming Man").



StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also: if the guy who clicked "no" for whether or not the was well-written is reading this, can I ask why so I can improve?

letsgofishing
May 18th 2011


908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent work man, POS'd, really enjoyed reading this.

A couple of constructive comments... I would suggest you cut/change these sentences..

"That doesn't really tell you anything of course, it's the kind of thing you're more accustomed to hearing in children's
cartoons or in the second Indiana Jones film, but hopefully I'll be able to justify it."

and

"Though to argue against myself I'd suggest that a life of tour buses and B-list fame may not be the most compelling
writing material."

What makes a strong review is being able to set yourself up as an authoritative voice and make a strong unified
compelling argument. You kind of went against both of those goals in these sentences. For example see what you
did in the first sentence, you stated that this album has heart, but then you cast doubt in the readers mind about
whether or not you'll be able to prove it, therefore weakening your credibility. And the second aside, imo, contradicts
or at least undercuts your original statement making the argument not as strong as it could be. Watch out for that in
your next review, asides usually aren't necessary, especially when they damage the strength of the argument like
they do here.

but again, still really great work here. looking forward to your next review.

WatchItExplode
May 18th 2011


3292 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agree with the sentiment that while musicianship has improved, DCFC has a much more enjoyable feel on their earlier albums.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@letsgofishing: I guess I chose to keep those lines in because I don't like being the authoritative voice since there's always a chance I may be wrong. I do see what you're saying though and I'll make sure I don't get into the position where I feel the need to put them in with the next review.

letsgofishing
May 18th 2011


908 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I see what your saying. I doubt my arguments all the time. What you may find though is that your just over-thinking
it, but even when that isn't the case, it's up too you to find a better argument which you are comfortable with.
Whatever the case is, it's a personal conflict, and not one that should make it's way into the review.

and remember it's all subjective anyway, so if you state it well enough, people won't have a problem with it. A
review isn't the place to be modest :P

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2011


2719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But then people will get angry with me! D:

But yeh, that makes sense. I'll take a stab at it anyhow.

Ocean of Noise
March 29th 2014


539 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This album is perfect. Easily Death Cab's best; the last two tracks especially are absolute masterpieces.

wacknizzle
March 29th 2014


13602 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Company Calls Epilogue is so damn good. Perfect sad bastard song

Digging: Redwood Hill - Collider

Ocean of Noise
March 29th 2014


539 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

No Joy In Mudville might be the best song they ever made



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