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Death Cab for Cutie, Plans

Death Cab for Cutie started off as a pet project for lead singer Ben Gibberd, but soon producer and guitarist Chris Walla, bassist Nicholas Harmer, and drummer Nathan Good joined to solidify the group. From their first release, 1999’s Something About Airplanes , it was apparent that Death Cab’s raw straightforward rock-pop approach mixed with Gibberd’s working class poetry and heartfelt, frail vocal delivery would quickly turn these Bellingham, Massachusetts boys into indie rock darlings. While their legions of adoring fans turned Death Cab’s musical charm into critical and financial success – they also managed to reach a broader audience by receiving constant praise on the hit show The O.C. (main character Seth Cohen adorns a Death Cab poster on his wall) – it was just a matter of time before they signed on to a major label. So with their latest, and first for Atlantic records, Death Cab don’t stray far from their poppy-melodic past but they do opt out for a more produced, studio gloss and it suits their batch of soft-core ballads. Tracks like “Marching Bands Of Manhattan,” “Summer Skin,” and “Your Heart Is An Empty Room” all gradually build around perfectly set mid-tempo guitar and keyboards. But “What Sarah Said” is the most effecting song – it’s based around a dying woman and features some intense imagery: “Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room/ Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news/ And then the nurse come round and everyone will lift their heads/ But I’m thinking of what Sarah said/ That love is watching someone die.” “Sarah Said” ends in Gibberd asking the listener, “So who’s gonna watch you die?” While Plans cleverly sets up Death Cab for Cutie for a new mainstream sound, the album does drag mid-way through, and as a result, you might find yourself hitting the skip button more then once. (Atlantic) Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars

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