Pop is a wonderful thing. It’s all of its bastardized forms, through all of its retarded variations, amidst many hideous backfires and mistakes, the genre, as a global musical denomination, keeps progressing and delivering worthy sons. Think Built to Spill. Elliott Smith. Wilco. Whatever its shape, pop as a feeling is alive and continues to transcend, and blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard it all before. And whether you’ve actually heard of or listened to Death Cab for Cutie before, you’ve heard them too. It’s the same thing and entirely unique. Pop is dead. Long live pop.
Underneath Ben Gibbard’s obsessive, introspective, poetic lyrics (“You’ll discover that casual friends keep notes in their pockets to remember your name,” “This won’t be the last time you’ll hear from me / It’s just the start”), are infectious, lovely melodies that hardly creep above a conversational roar and burrow easily into your skin. Lacking a verse-chorus-verse mentality, the songs still find a way to be undeniably pop, undeniably friendly. Mostly, it’s Gibbard’s voice, more welcoming than the cold side of the pillow, and more Freedy Johnston or Elliott Smith than either could do themselves. But on top of that, it’s elegant, hypnotic guitar licks and an ambient dream-like feel that grab you, and never let you go.
The Seattle band is catching on and gaining a name. And sure, you could make the argument that “For What Reason” or “Lowell, MA” might fit on the radio, but We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes is something you want to discover and cherish with no strings attached, and pass it on as eagerly.
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// Notes from the Road
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