The opening moments of Plans are what it must have felt like for Dorothy to open the door and find a world full of color. Immediately, one is embraced by the voice of Ben Gibbard as he sings, "I wish we could open our eyes / To see in all directions at the same time / Oh what a beautiful view / If you were never aware of what was around you."
Death Cab For Cutie is a relatively new force in my life, albeit a very important and personal one now. With the release of Plans, I dove into the archives, and for about a month, it was only Death Cab - from You Can Play These Songs with Chords to my personal fave, Transatlanticism - as well as some Postal Service thrown in there when I just couldn't get enough of that voice meandering through my head.
Track two on Plans, "Soul Meets Body," is the perfect song - poppy enough to be catchy and fully loaded with some "Ba ba ba da da da" that just clinch the moment. But just as you begin to write it off as just another bubble gum radio hit, you realize that they are touching the dark side as Ben sings, "I do believe it's true / That there are roads left in both of our shoes / If the silence takes you / Then I hope it takes me too."
The album continues with beautiful and haunting stories about love lost with the shedded summer skin, the curse of not finding the right words to say, watching someone die, as well as the dark and slightly spiteful "Someday You Will Be Loved." All the songs touch on some very real feelings - discomfort, ugliness, regret - with soothing beats and melodies telling you that somehow, somewhere, everything's kind of okay. The lyrics are crafted in a way that you can so perfectly visualize the moment as it was one of your own, like here in one of my faves: "You're so cute when you're slurring your speech / But they're closing the bar and they want us to leave."
One of the best treats on Plans is "I Will Follow You into the Dark" - a seemingly simple song about death that blends Ben's voice with only light acoustic guitar. This is one of the sigh-makers as you imagine the words being just for you and somehow feel less alone in the world: "If there's no one beside you / When your soul embarks / Then I'll follow you into the dark."
Plans is a slam dunk for Death Cab For Cutie. If you are already a fan, you already know you need to have it. If you are not a fan yet, then it's time to open your eyes and to see in all directions at the same time.
JamBase | San Francisco
Go See Live Music!