Death Cab for Cutie
Something About Airplanes


3.5
great

Review

by Old Uncle Al USER (86 Reviews)
March 29th, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist


Death Cab's first album is somewhat under-rated. It's definitley the least successful, which is a shame, as it is a good release from the Washington State indie band that has made a rather large name for themselves recently. With the commercial success largely brought by The O.C., Death Cab have evolved alot more in terms of successfulness in the last four years. But when they came out in 1998, the early twenty somethings established themselves as indie gods. On they're first release, Something About Airplanes, they laid down the map and chose they're sound and kept with it throughout they're four releases since. Onto the album, now.

Death Cab for Cutie; Something about Airplanes
The Players:

Benjamin Gibbard: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano
Christopher Walla: Lead Guitar, Vocals, Piano
Nicholas Harmer: Bass, Vocals
Nathan Good: Drums, Percussion

This album has some excellent tracks. Some could be definite classic. On such great songs as the opener Bend to Squares, which includes strings and acoustic guitars, you can really see what this band is capable of doing. This song has a haunting guitar riff accompanied by some beautiful strings and a moaning Benjamin for the verse, while the brief chorus features cruched guitars, and a less than stellar vocal performance by Benjamin. Regardless, it fits together and the overall effect is spellbinding. It's the most beautiful song by Death Cab that hasn't been matched until late in The Photo Album. What are the lyrics like? They're very poetic and thoroughly written to not make any sense. Everything from Foreign Film and Modern Plays to knocking the wind from one last urge. Few things can be said to do this song justice, but words like "stunning" and "brilliant" can be used. This is clearly a highlight. Another great song on the album isn't they're own and the title may be misleading, but The Face That Launched 1000 ***s is a great track. Written by Jay Chilcote (who that is, I don't know), this song is a little more straight forward in terms of a rock/indie song with faint drums and keyboards as well as a few unfocused string sections. Benjamin's vocal performance is also very agile, as he goes from low to high seamlessly. This song, despite the title, is one to look for.

The second best on the album is the slow to start but gradually brilliant Amputations. After a lengthy radio intro, you get introduced to the song itself, a very memorable, solemn, and very smooth song with distorted vocals and pronounced lead guitars. The music is quite distorted as well, but you get that day-dreamy feel that My Bloody Valentine trademarked. This contains some of the best vocal work on the album, as well as the best mini-solo by Death Cab ever. The little bridge is quite small but significant, as it displays more independent guitars and several percussion instruments. But the best part of this song is defintley the verse, focusing on the combination of the vocals and music, and flawlessly combining them to create a very beautiful song, with a twist of sadness as the chords and riffs display very melancollie flavour. Ending quickly with another radio transmission, this song is a great way to represent the darker side of Death Cab. Another definitive song on here is Your Bruise, another darker song that contains more clear and fantastic musical performances, as well as a great vocal performance which is still distorted, but more flexible and varied in the way of effecting the mood of the music. And the music? It's incredible. One of the best riffs on the album accompanied with trudging drums and lurching bass, and the vocals themselves compliment the music to create an overall feel. The beauty in this song is very one of the peaks of the album, and even though it clocks in at a relatively lenghy 4:20, it's over too quick.

This album is definitley not flawless. There are a few filler tracks, but not enough to drag this album down. Maybe three, maximum. The best of the few is the poppy tune Pictures in an Exhibition that may not start out to promising, but as the chorus comes in it's more dark and enjoyable, as it has a very musical aspect to it. The vocals in this particular part are incredible, and the music the same. It's the rest of the song that makes it skippable, as there's about two minutes of boring and quite unnecessary poppiness. My advice? Just skip two minutes and listen from there. You won't be sorry. Another filler song is Fake Frowns, which is overall just average. About half of the riff is acceptabe, while the other suffers from unsuitable chords, and while the vocal performance is exceptional, the music itself is reptetetive and really doesn't seem to change until the bridge. A musical piece with ascending guitars and crunched guitars, pounding drums and the like. And while it's a good track, a few things just stick out and make this average. The sound would've been more acceptable if it was cleaner, as we've had quite a bit of the dirty edge on this album, and a clean track would be a good refreshment. Regardless, it's a good track with a few unneccesary parts to it. Champagne from a Paper Cup is the worst track on here. There really isn't much to offer except it's entertaining lyrics. But while there's some chanting of drunk driving, this song is exceptionally boring. The repetetive riff should actually end, especially if it's not that good to begin with. After a chorus, which is just more of the same stuff, there's more boring rock but with ... distorion. Something completely unneccesary. If anything, it's barely listenable, if relatively short.

Overall, this is an good release from an excellent band. And while that phrase is extremely cliche on this site, I can honestly say that it is true for this band. They haven't put out one bad album, and this is a good album by them, but lacks moments that made their other albums just that much better. Overall I suggest you buy it if you like indie, calming music, alternative, and just plain great chilling music that doesn't bite your head off that so many albums tend to do.

Thanks for reading,
AV8RS



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Something About Airplanes is a record that is equally charming and dismal....


Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
March 29th 2006


4827 Comments


I was gonna review this... oh well yours is much better. Although I really liked "Champagne from a Paper Cup" I agreed with the rest of the review.

I think I'll just review Death Cab's first Demo (You Can Play These Songs with Chords).

Two-Headed Boy
March 29th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That album is a mixed bag with me. There are some great songs, but mostly it doesn't sound like Death Cab at all. Do it justice, old bean!

The Jungler
March 29th 2006


4827 Comments


Yeah it's almost kind of punk sounding.

Two-Headed Boy
March 29th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, and that's not the greatest thing.This Message Edited On 03.29.06

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
March 29th 2006


15743 Comments


Heh another AV8RS DCFC review. Another good effort, although maybe you should try to break out of your Great-Good-Bad format and try doing some overalls. You get thumbs up.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

pixiesfanyo
March 29th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is the only DCFC I ever really dug alot.

It's pretty good for an indie album, but I get bored kind of easy with all the melodrama.

Zebra
Moderator
March 30th 2006


2647 Comments


Good review, as usual. I've only really heard Translactatsssion or whatever and didn't really like it that much. I probably won't be looking into this but I may attempt to download a track or to.

Two-Headed Boy
March 31st 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'd download Bend to Squares.

Thanks for the feedback.

Happymeal
April 1st 2006


330 Comments


I thought it was an ok album. The production and Ben Gibbard's singing are mainly what turned me off it.

LordSalohcin21
June 27th 2007


126 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fake frowns is quite possibly the best song on the album next to bend to squares...

Kashmir09
September 21st 2009


772 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Don't know why this album isn't getting too much love. I think this is Death Cab basically at their best (arguable of course).

Knott-
Emeritus
September 21st 2009


10198 Comments


I still don't like this album nearly as much as their other stuff.

Quen
July 16th 2010


1633 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoyed this a lot.

thatoneguy726
August 2nd 2012


1635 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

alb is forgettable

jtswope
November 11th 2012


2373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i really dig this album

OceanMechanic
June 22nd 2014


508 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

goddamn this is almost as good as We Have The Facts

Digging: The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore

shostakoverture
October 4th 2014


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i loved Champagne...

Digging: Into It. Over It. - Intersections



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