Thursday, September 01, 2005

Waiting for the hint of a spark

Wang's Record Reviews - a starless system
I will admit that I did not come to be a Death Cab for Cutie fan until Transatlanticism, so I am relatively new to the fold. I have since purchased The Photo Album, but I have not yet given it its due. So I do not review the new album with too much of a base, but that may be a good thing. I hate it when people say things like "It's ok, but it is no Transatlanticism." Of course it isn't. Why would a band make the same album twice?

Anyway, my initial impression of Plans, after about 4.5 listens, is that I like it. I do not love it yet, but that may come with time. I am very much a lyric person, so once I hear the songs more, my initial like may grow. But the album does have great moments, and a few not-so-great ones. A few highlights (in disc order, not greatness order):

  • "Marching Bands of Manhattan" is a good album opener that sets the tone well for what is to come. The piano throughout the end adds a nice melodic touch.
  • The single, "Soul Meets Body" musically reminds me of "Losing My Religion" a bit, which is praise. Ben Gibbard shows off his vocal range a bit more than in other songs. For me, many songs have an "it" moment -- a brief snippet, even a few seconds, that makes the song. In "Soul Meets Body," it is the "bada baba ba ba" after the first verse.
  • In "Summer Skin" I love the Civil War drum beat. Good stuff.
  • The lyrics get much deeper into death with "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," and is musically the simplest of songs -- just the acoustic guitar, and the style highlights the simple but lovely lyrics. One sidenote: Usually, I appreciate it when songwriters make an effort to be grammatically correct, but in this song, the effort creates an awkward moment. When Gibbard sings, "and illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs," he is grammtically right, but I think if he had said "No" instead of "NOs" we would avoid the awkwardness of thinking he says the "nose on their vacancy signs," which adds a silliness that does injustice to the song.
  • On first listen, "The Heart is an Empty Room" was my favorite song. It is simple, a little Snow Patrol-esque, but elegant and pure.
  • "What Sarah Says" again combines piano and an interesting drum beat, which is nice, but what's with all the death talk?
  • At first, "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" sounds too much like the band is trying to recreate the song "Transatlanticism" (Yeah, good luck, boys), but after about a minute and a half, it becomes its own song, and again I think the lyrics are the highlight of this one.

Not many low moments to report, but I am not too keen on the first half of "Different Names for the Same Thing." Once it changes completely in the middle, then it becomes a much better song. And the closer, "Stable Song," is a big YAWN. Don't leave us like this.

Overall, it is . . . a Death Cab album -- heartfelt lyrics, nice melodies (especially the abundant piano) -- but I do not think it is groundbreaking in any way. I mean, it's no Transatlanticism.


But why would anyone ever watch a tv show starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.?


At 4:22 PM, Blogger Kid C posited...

Because they loved "She's All That" and/or "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed." That's why I'll be watching anyway.

At 10:31 AM, Blogger waintingnrain posited...

oh man. he isn't hespanic is he?


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