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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Death Cab for Cutie: Plans

So like many other great bands, Death Cab for Cutie was unbeknownst to me until an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" when I heard the song "Soul Meets Body" during a very climactic scene. I didn't know the song, yet I knew that whatever melody I'd just heard had completely taken me. I remember asking my brother, "Who sings that song?" Luckily, he not only knew, but had a copy of the album Plans which includes the aforementioned track. It's a truly fascinating and abundantly lyrical album with several great songs. It is my pleasure to share it with you.

So right down to it, "Soul Meets Body" and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" are two completely captivating songs. "Soul Meets Body" has so many hypnotic melodies and rhythms that come together to make a totally memorable song. There are technically great mixes in this song as well, particularly the depth given to the vocals by the layered octaves. It gives the song a much heftier, deeper sound that is very warm at the same time. However the part of the song I like the best is the memorable melody that accompanies phrases like, "And I do believe it's true that there are roads left in both of our shoes". It's the part of this song that leaves me humming all day. On the other hand, "I Will Follow You into the Dark" could not be a more different song, similar only in the fact that I love it equally. It's an acoustic track that is literally about dying and undying love. The slow guitar melody gives you a feeling of sincerity in the music while the vocals wrap you in their warmth and devotion. The lyrics in this song are some of my favorites ever, hands down. "If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I'll follow you into the dark" is enough to make me want to pull over on the side of the road, turn off the engine, and have a good cry. Now, I'm not really going to do that, but you can see the emotion that is conjured by this melodically simplistic track. It's simply beautiful...

"Marching Bands of Manhattan" kind of reminds me of the band Semi-sonic. That's not a bad thing as I like the sound of Semi-Sonic, but it's merely an observation given to help you better picture the sound. It's a slower track, but does not lack in energy. Especially during what I would consider to be the undefined chorus, when the momentum begins to pick up with the repeating of lyrics and the building of the instruments. It's a great song to begin their album. "Different Names for the Same Thing" is not a lyrically heavy song as there are only two verses, but it has tremendous depth to it nonetheless. The music is a little unconventional in places with chord choices that may sound strange for a second and then pull you in with their originality and perfect placement in the song. It's incredibly slow until midway through when it finally adds percussion, but this only adds to the uniqueness of the track. The end of the track definitely sounds like it could also be featured in a "Grey's Anatomy" episode with its sudden intensity build.

"Someday You Will Be Loved" is a song which is not likely to be forgotten. The first thing to know about this song is that this chorus will get stuck in your head. Not only is the melody listener-friendly, the lyrics are simple and down to earth. They don't try to attain the status of "super intellectual dialect" which is a characteristic I find truly endearing. While the story is somewhat sad, with it's tale of break-up and the typical "you'll eventually find the right person" spiel, it's also sincerely hopeful. With the pace of this track, you have the ability to take in every word, as not to quickly forget it. This song will likely stay with you... "Crooked Teeth" is very likable with its playful melody and catchy chorus of "'Cause you can't find nothin' at all if there was nothin' there all along". I also really like the way that they phrase that line to fit with the rhythm of the song. They achieve an interesting sound with this technique. The big factors of "Crooked Teeth" are the playful lyrics and enjoyable musicality that you get when listening. It's definitely a fun song to sing along with.

"Brothers on a Hotel Bed" begins in a very ethereal manner with its light, soft piano melodies and soon turns very poetic. This is a song that I like to listen to more than sing along with. The title is a bit strange, but one of the last lines of the song is "'Cause now we say goodnight from our own separate sides like brothers on a hotel bed". The lyrics leading up to that ending are extremely poetic and well written. The soft percussion is reminiscent of that in a soft rock song, but unlike Michael Bolton's best, you'll want to listen to this one several more times. Other tracks on Plans include "Summer Skin", "Your Heart is an Empty Room", "What Sarah Said" and "Stable Song". These songs are lumped into similar categories for me. While I like them all and think that they are individually noteworthy songs, I feel that they can all be mentioned together due to their similarities. They are each relatively slow, but percussive songs. Each one is lyrically great, however musically, I get lost among these. In my opinion, they have the same level of memorability.

There are no bad songs on Plans; not one. In fact, most of them are flat out great! Some will leaving you singing, most will leave you pondering and in fact, one might leave you crying. They are all fascinating and definitely worth checking out. I recommend Plans for anyone looking for a great album or just a fan of "Grey's Anatomy"! Happy listening!

Key Tracks
1. Soul Meets Body
2. Different Names for the Same Thing
3. I Will Follow You into the Dark
4. Someday You Will Be Loved
5. Crooked Teeth

8 out of 10 stars


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