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Death Cab for Cutie 

Plans


Death Cab for Cutie
Plans
(Atlantic)
Death Cab for Cutie hasn’t made its best record. The lush Transatlanticism (2003) — the mainstream score that landed this new deal with Atlantic — came close. Closer still was 2001’s The Photo Album, tinged with more anger than usual and coiled up under tight production. As for individual song quality, Plans falls short of those. But it’s the most thematic, mature record of Death Cab’s career, and that’s worth discussion. With his unremarkable voice, Ben Gibbard must rely on his masterful turn of phrase and uncanny ability to make the small big. Same goes for the music — Death Cab isn’t made up of spectacular soloists or noodling wankers, it’s four guys who are good players of indie pop. Plans is about mortality — life, what’s worthy in life (love, duh) and death. It begins with one of the most glorious-sounding songs Gibbard has ever written. “Marching Bands of Manhattan” is about wanting to give the world to his love, yet Gibbard can’t climb out of his melancholy past the refrain: “Sorrow drips into your heart/ through a pinhole...your love is gonna drown.” The beautiful, guitar-only “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” is, like the best songs here, about death. The centrepiece is the piano-driven, six-minute “What Sarah Said” (“love is watching someone die,” FYI), where Gibbard lays out a wrenching hospital scene. Plans tosses a hook at greatness, but never catches it. If Coldplay is a band for the masses, there’s hope for Death Cab. But not until the next one.
Tara Thorne
categories: Coast pick

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