Music

Death Cab For Cutie: Plans

Ryan McDermott

This is an amazing little pop record of amazing little pop songs.


Death Cab for Cutie

Plans

Label: Atlantic
US Release Date: 2005-08-30
UK Release Date: 2005-08-29
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Death Cab for Cutie is like a woman that is meant only to be loved. You look down at her as you are lying in bed and want nothing but to kiss her forehead and wrap your arms around her. Even in her most heated moments she is still honest and tender. Of course, it's not like she can't do anything wrong. There are moments when she breaks your heart and you feel like you'll never forgive her. But then there you are looking down at her again from that soft perch of the mattress and pillow.

With The Photo Album Death Cab won my heart. With Transatlanticism, Death Cab broke it. And with their new album Plans they've mended it and won me back.

This is an amazing little pop record of amazing little pop songs. I've always liked simple Death Cab over full-sounding complex Death Cab (which is why I probably don't like >Transatlanticism), and there are some gorgeous morsels on this album. This record isn't a musical revolution, but more of a musical lullaby, a sweet collection of sad and hopeful stories.

To me there are really three things that make a perfect pop song: melody, lyrics and Brian Wilson. Now Ben Gibbard is no Brian Wilson, but he's got melody and lyrics. In fact he is writing some of the most gorgeous lyrics around today (only The Weakerthans rival him in their tender, heart-wrenching honesty). With lines like, "Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule/ I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black/ I held my tongue as she told me 'Son, fear is the heart of love'/ So I never went back", Gibbard emotes sweet emo melody and lyrics without all of the overblown tragedy that plagues today's emo scene. In fact, save for the fact that Gibbard has a soft focus sort of upper register voice, these songs, and most of Death Cab's for that matter, are less whiney emo rants as they are beautiful indie-pop songs.

"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" is an excellent example. It's Gibbard and an acoustic guitar and he bares his heart in a tender and mature manner. The song is one of hope and not typical emo despair. I have put this song on repeat so many cigarette laden, drunken nights that it's sick, but the song, in it's sweet simplicity, has always made me sit back and just smile. Like I said before, this isn't the music of virtuosity, it's the music of beautiful emotion. And this song is one of the best written pop songs of the year -- if not of the past five years.

The seventh song, "Someday You Will Be Loved", is a sort of Decemberists sounding song with the typical Gibbard twinge. It is sweet and steady and a sort of rolling arpeggiated song. Gibbard's lyrics once again steal the show. Despite the title sounding sappy beyond belief, the song is actually an epic about a boy leaving a girl broken-hearted. He ends by telling her that someday someone will love her and that she will forget him. It's almost the anti-emo song. Boy leaves girl, not the other way around.

"What Sarah Said" is definitely the most haunting song on the album. "And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself/ That I've already taken too much today/ As each descending peak on the LCD/ Took you a little farther away from me." The song is probably the least hopeful of all. The story is of a boy sitting in the waiting room of a hospital waiting for a doctor to bring him bad news. The song finishes with Sarah's words. "But I'm thinking of what Sarah said/That love is watching someone die." Chew on that for a bit while riding the train from Princeton to New York. I had to listen to it two or three times in a row just to digest how the phrase "love is watching someone die" is really true.

The rest of the album follows suit: solid Gibbard lyrics and song writing. It's a strong and generally hopeful album, not as sorrowful as some of his other songs.

And while I really believe that The Photo Album was Death Cab's most emotionally tearing album, this one was easily their most mature and well written.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image