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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Death Cab for Cutie -- Plans


I can't think of a more exciting time in my life than the first three months of 2006. For once I had unlimited options, nothing standing in my way, an almost unlimited pool of optimism, and a mysterious but wonderful sense of anticipation. I felt like I was floating freely in an alien sea under an open and unfamiliar view of space, and it was beautiful. So I figured, what the heck? Death Cab for Cutie, I'll give you another chance. Death Cab's first chance occurred about six years earlier. I had heard of them from their fellow DC band, The Dismemberment Plan, a band I did and still love. The Plan had posted on their website that they were about to embark upon The Death and Dismemberment Tour with their capitol city brethren. That joke is still funny to me.
Anyway, this piqued my interest, so I checked out Death Cab, and quickly fell asleep. They weren't anywhere close to anything I enjoyed, and I found them so boring, I couldn't help but immediately forget about them.
Well, fast forward to 2006, and Death Cab had a video on the Fuse channel for a song I actually found myself enjoying. A girl I was close to (and would become engaged to in a few months...and married to in a few more...and having a kid with three years later...and still hanging around with now) liked it a lot, as did several friends, so one night after work (at the glorious Zachary Library, which was at the time in the middle of probably in the middle of a suburb), I stopped by the Baker Wal-Mart and picked up some Plans. My disappointment was immediate.
The vocalist, Ben Gibbard, still has that voice you have the last two or three seconds into one of those bets to see how long you can hold out a note. Also, he sounds as if either his lips and throat were stuck in a full-cheeked smile, or he simply struggled to open his mouth when he sang. Also, he sounds really wimpy. Alright, I realize this is probably the meanest paragraph I'll write in these reviews. Maybe Gibbard is a nice guy. But that kind of singing...I just don't like it. It's not for me. Sorry I was mean.
Anyway, I could get over Gibbard's singing if I liked his lyrics, but let's just say they fit his vocals perfectly.
The music is almost as boring. Almost anytime Death Cab for Cutie have a chance to do something interesting, they go the opposite way. This album puts the "soft" in "soft rock," and it is intolerable.
I am going to invoke the mercy rule and stop this review now(yes, this sentence is meant to be self-deprecating).  This music makes me feel too subjective. Almost everything Death Cab for Cutie do on Plans just rubs me the wrong way.
Even the song I like a lot is kind of annoying.  If my wife didn't have brown eyes, I'd probably hate it.

I guess discussing how dumb the band's name is would be piling on?
Plans has a couple of positives, though.  No matter how much I dislike the album, it reminds me of a great time in my life (see, subjective). Also, Plans has a cohesive theme that most of the tracks touch upon: Plans are really just wishes, and we have no idea what we are really going to get, even when we plot things out meticulously. My own life exemplifies this very statement. At the start of 2006, I thought I would get into a creative writing masters program and move away. Here I am, six years later, married to a beautiful woman, father to a wonderful child...and living across the highway from where I lived back then, in the middle of a swamp, commuting forty minutes to a city desk job that has absolutely nothing to do with writing fiction.
So I guess I can make fun of your voice all I want, Ben Gibbard, but you were right, and your CD is still sitting on my shelf. I hope that is as good as an apology.

2005 Atlantic
1. Marching Bands of Manhattan 4:12
2. Soul Meets Body 3:50
3. Summer Skin 3:14
4. Different Names For The Same Thing 5:08
5. I Will Follow You Into The Dark 3:09
6. Your Heart Is An Empty Room 3:39
7. Someday You Will Be Loved 3:11
8. Crooked Teeth 3:23
9. What Sarah Said 6:20
10. Brothers On a Hotel Bed 4:31
11. Stable Song 3:42

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