Death Cab for Cutie
Narrow Stairs


3.0
good

Review

by IsItLuck? EMERITUS
May 17th, 2008 | 128 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Narrow Stairs is an ambitious journey that falls short in the end.

Optimistic. It was the first word that came to mind the first time hearing the new Death Cab For Cutie album. Why not" After all, the first song was everything and more that I thought Death Cab For Cutie had the potential for. Their last two releases, Transatlanticism and Plans left an unimpressionable taste that barely had me clawing back to listen for more. But this time will be different. Narrow Stairs will be that album, or so I thought.

Narrow Stairs begins with “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” a leery, yet joyous affair. Building up confidently and boldly, it soon trots on triumphantly with that almost cute, fuzzy electric guitar accompanied by a fucking awesome bass line. Between Ben Gibbard’s haunting vocals, and the near My Bloody Valentine aspects of “Bixby Canyon Bridge,” the track shows the ambitious indie-rock nature of Narrow Stairs. From there it only builds steam with “I Will Possess Your Heart,” an uncanny song for Death Cab standards beginning with a instrumental introduction of over four-minutes. Between the groovy drumbeat and bass of “I Will Possess Your Heart,” it really never becomes overwrought. In addition to that, guitars and piano trickle from above onto a lavish musical landscape that makes it a spaced-out affair. This is all before Gibbards soulful lyrics, ‘You gotta spend some time, love/you gotta spend some time, with me/and I know that you’ll find love/I will possess your heart,’ that don’t exactly climax a song to something that could have been much larger in stature. And from there, it never retains its glowing introduction to Narrow Stairs.

From the opening tracks, it seemed like Ben Gibbard and Death Cab had found their niche. But what once started as something fresh and daring soon became safe and almost seemingly predictable. More heartfelt tunes such as “Grapevine Fires” and “You Can Do Better Than Me” continue with that same sappy ring to an already depressing and seemingly upbeat track, respectively. Gibbard’s vocal elsewhere continue with the few words and syllable verses with that poppy edge grabbing the throats of the weak and the wounded. For some, it is hard not to get lost in his vocals between such savvy indie-pop songs. It’s like the infamous song, “Such Great Heights,” from the side project of Gibbard, The Postal Service, that reminds everyone so clearly that regardless of the music behind his voice, that he can sweep millions of their feet. “Long Division” hooks and seemingly messy, in a good way, guitar work is a track that will get people jumping and dancing all around the country. Additionally, the bluesy “Cath…” intricately bops between upbeats and a infectious chorus. But for every indie-pop success, comes a confused Death Cab For Cutie identity. Unfortunately, it becomes one too many and some prime examples include the awkwardly trudging tribal-esque “Pity And Fear,” and the seemingly cheesy “No Sunlight.” From here, the optimism has truly diminished.

Overall, Death Cab For Cutie fell at a point that is essential for every band; a unique identity. Caught between the indie-pop that they so cleverly deviated and their new found ambitious sound, Death Cab For Cutie have lost themselves. Whether it was lost with Ben Gibbard’s heart is another story. But one thing is for sure, Gibbard is here to stay and continue to pour his heart out for everyone to listen to. Even if it just the same old sob story.



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3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Knott- EMERITUS (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 14th 2008


4948 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Review was a little rushed, excuse typos and grammatically errors.

plane
Emeritus
May 14th 2008


7360 Comments


I don't get what everyone sees in the single. Good review though (if rushed), pretty much what I expected from this.

brandtweathers
May 14th 2008


2006 Comments


the review makes me think that you would have given it higher than a 3 (if it weren't for the conclusion)
tho rushed, this is a much more interesting perspective than other reviews. nice, concise work
And will be listening to bixby canyon soon. i mean, cmon, you said ****ing

Electric City
Emeritus
May 14th 2008


15762 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really dig the first two tracks. I think this album is better than you say, but I haven't listened too much.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 14th 2008


4948 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As for the rating, I was basically between a 3 and 3.5 but chose the former.

Well EC, I dig the first two tracks too, but it's pretty flat from there on out

AtavanHalen
May 14th 2008


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'm shocked you don't like Plans or Transatlanticism. Plans is close to a classic for me, and Transatlanticism is. Review's good nonetheless.

voodooramen
May 14th 2008


14 Comments


Shocked he doesn't like Plans or Transatlanticism? I personally despise most of both of those albums, and also have to agree with this review. I do, however, think it is somewhat of a step forward from Plans, but they really do go all over the place with this album. The album art is fitting in this manner.

mx
Moderator
May 14th 2008


739 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

For me, the album is 3 great songs surrounded by a puddle of mess: Bixby Canyon Ridge, Cath, Your New Twin Sized Bed

foreverendeared
May 14th 2008


14677 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

well i have this but i'll need to listen to it several more times before i vote.

i loved transatlanticism and Plans tho. their really old stuff is really great too, so i expect i'll like this.



good review

Drickey
May 14th 2008


38 Comments


voodooramen^

You see it's just that not liking Transatlanticism is akin to not really liking Death Cab.

xmattxhardcore
May 14th 2008


422 Comments


A good review, however, I disagree to some extent. I haven't listened to it too many times, but I can already tell this'll be a grower.

natey
May 14th 2008


4190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listened to this lots and it really is great. "You Can Do Better Then Me" is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

SpinLightTwo
May 14th 2008


1048 Comments


bixby is the best song.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
May 14th 2008


4948 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I second SpinLight

AtavanHalen
May 15th 2008


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Shocked he doesn't like Plans or Transatlanticism? I personally despise most of both of those albums, and also have to agree with this review.


Plans I can understand, not to everyone's liking...but fucking Transatlanticism is one of the best records of all time.

voodooramen
May 15th 2008


14 Comments


"You see it's just that not liking Transatlanticism is akin to not really liking Death Cab."

Well I'm a fan of the old Death Cab, Something About Airplanes is my favorite by them. I just don't enjoy Transatlanticism, it's basically a different band from then on.

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 15th 2008


3741 Comments


death cabs really always been a boring band

The Jungler
May 15th 2008


4826 Comments


yeah, I really didn't like the single that much either.
Good review. I probably won't listen to this, but who knows.

Aficionado
May 15th 2008


1027 Comments


what joshuatree said

Jom
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2008


3113 Comments


Probably my favorite DCFC record after Transatlanticism. I like their harder-hitting songs (yes, "The New Year" constitutes harder-hitting for DCFC). I am still hung up on a couple spots on this record, but it's pretty good.



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