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Narrow Stairs – Death Cab For Cutie

May 3, 2008

Fear not Death Cab fans, Ben Gibbard and crew have not sold out. While many feared that after the more mainstream “Plans” was released on a (gasp) major lable, that Death Cab for Cutie would be lost into the mainstream forever. As I said, fear not! Bellingham, Washington’s biggest indie act has taken one huge leap away from the mainstream with their latest release, Narrow Stairs.
Narrow Stairs‘ first single, the 8-and-a-half-minute tune that is “I Will Possess Your Heart”, is possible the best indicator of this experimentation. With a 4-and-a-half-minute instrumental intro, this song truly epitomizes the effect that DCfC wants from this album. And to top it off, they even made a video for this song. Clocking in at 8:35, it is Death Cab’s longest video to date. And it’s a darn good ‘un too.
The rest of the album follows suit. While many of Gibbard’s lyrics retain the angst-filled, melancholy tone as previous works, the music does give some songs a much happier feel (No Sunlight, Cath…, You Can Do Better Than Me). However, there is no mistaking it, this is Death Cab For Cutie. With an album that critics said will either revolutionize their career or destroy it, Death Cab has definitely revolutionized their career in my eyes.
With such a great album, however, does come one complaint. After the first two tracks, DCfC appears to shift back into their old, indie pop style. While there is a significant difference between the two eras of DCfC’s music, it almost seems as is they took old songs, put weird effects over some of the songs and had some fun with the production.
Nevertheless, Narrow Stairs is arguably Death Cab’s best work. Transitioning from poppy to dreamy to melancholy all while remaining distinctly Gibbard, Narrow Stairs is definitely in the running for “Album of the Year”.

9.7 out of 10

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