Death Cab For Cutie - Plans (Cover Artwork)

Death Cab For Cutie

Plans (2005)


Snorecore is a very amusing term that I've noticed popping up around the ‘Org recently. I'm assuming it is meant to describe a boring ass, lethargic band that you just can't get into. Now, most weeks I'd be defending Death Cab For Cutie from such an A.D.D.-inspired term. I'd be stressing Ben Gibbard's quirky, bittersweet lyrics, Chris Walla's genius arrangements, or Jason McGregor's upbeat and always interesting drumming so that I could try to convince you guys that Death Cab can do oh so much and the fact that you get bored while listening to them disheartens me (maybe you need huge music dork headphones like me?). On a normal day I'd be calling Sickboi out to the streets for another rap battle. But the truth is that since I started college and moved into my dorm room, Plans, the band's first major label release, is about the only thing that helps me sleep at night.

Sadly, there really aren't any surprises on this new release. Death Cab is the same atmospheric, melancholy little indie rock band they were on Transatlancism, and Ben Gibbard is still using his post-Postal Service "mature" writing voice. The biggest difference here though is that Gibbard is no longer musing about his lost loves, because it appears he's found love. So in true self-destructive form, most of the songs on Plans are about the end of his current relationship. Throughout the album Gibbard is constantly touching upon when he and his lover will both die. And like always, he is bittersweet and pretty (if you put this CD on when a chick is around, she may even just wanna make out with you, this of course pending if she's actually thinking out the words to the songs), but he really hits a home run with "Brother's On A Hotel Bed." In this elegant ballad, Ben tells the tale of a couple who's grown old and can't find what they loved in each other years before;

You may tire of me…because I'm not who I used to be. No longer easy on the eyes but these wrinkles masterfully disguise the youthful boy below, who turned your way and saw something he was not looking for: Both a beginning and an end. But now he lives inside someone he does not recognize when he catches his reflection on accident.
The truth is that even though on this release Death Cab can almost sound like a distorted, jangled out Iron & Wine (especially on track 2, "Soul Meets Body"), Plans could very well just have been Transatlanticism 2. And that's disappointing. It's like when I went to see "Spiderman 2" and I basically paid to see the original movie twice (I was pissed). It's the same thing but with more tweaks and bigger special effects. Not to get all Long Islandy, but it's deja entendu all over again. My biggest problem with this album seems to be that it's not the best album of the year. All year I've been waiting to get this CD to come out so that I could marvel at how beautiful it is. And while I do marvel at times (the bass line on "Summer Skin" gives me the shivers) something just feels wrong. Given the cast of characters it could have been a much more inspired release.

All in all, Death Cab For Cutie is still a competent indie rock band and Plans is a decent release for them. The kids will gobble it up. Seth Cohen will have a host of brand spanking new lyrics to quote so he can sound "witty" and "cute" (I'm being ironic, I don't watch "The OC," shut up). The album is certainly no flop, and I imagine in a year or so we'll be hearing about the plans for another new CD. Maybe I won't get my hopes so high up in 2007, and maybe by then DCFC will stop ripping off A Wilhelm Scream…