#11) Death Cab for Cutie: Plans, 2005
Honestly I know, they are more than a little emo, and Ben Gibbard isn’t the most amazing singer who has ever graced even an Indie band. However, there are moments that call for Death Cab above anything else. Recently, I arrived home to Beth, who had been writing most of the day and was beyond tired and fed up, and asked me to put some music on that was neither depressing nor upbeat. I had to scroll through (and suggest) several artists before we settled on this particular album. It was perfect.
Now, I do realize that to some they could be considered depressing, but their music is not so reflective that I tend to curl into fetal when it’s on, losing all hope in life like I do with say, oh, Damien Rice for example. Interesting that I say that, because one of the strongest themes on plans seems to be growing older, and expectations not being met. That sounds pretty fetal in theory, but it turns out sounding more thoughtful and less self-pittying than fetal normally allows.
Getting to the music, Marching Bands of Manhattan is the best way this album could have started. It builds up anticipation inside of me, not necessarily for the rest of the album, but for anything – anything – to happen. Something about the mix of instrumentation and timing give me an inner sense of purpose, even with lines like “sorrow drips you’re your heart through a pinhole… your love is gonna drown”. Perhaps these lines are warnings for my increasingly Emo music taste in the middle of this decade. Yes, I was listening to Dashboard Confessional too, and no you won’t find them on the list. (On another note, I have brushed my hair over my face in a rather effective emover for the event of writing this blog, and I do believe it is helping.)
Next comes a string of great tracks beginning with Soul Meets Body and reaching a sort of climax with the acoustic I Will Follow You into the Dark. Quick side note: my favorite lyric on Soul Meets Body is “I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s and not one speck will remain”. In between these include a track of nostalgia (Summer Skin) and another of melancholy thoughtfulness (Different Names…) before the chord pattern strikes up for I Will Follow You into the Dark; a title and chorus that are hinted at earlier with lines like, “but if the silence takes you, then I hope it takes you too,” and later echoed in the weaving of two central themes: death with love.
I have often thought the album sort of dips down to a low point until it hits What Sarah Said, but I noticed “Your Heart is an Empty Room” this time. For the first time I recognized its stunning beauty next to I Will Follow You into the Dark, potentially offering another response to the end of a relationship. It seems to be an outsider’s point of view on a relationship, with the opinion that one does have the opportunity to start fresh, as awful as it may feel.
Crooked Teeth was probably the biggest single from this record, and I honestly cannot tell you why. It’s a little fun, but the number of times I skip this track far outweigh the number I sit and listen. Maybe because by this point I am only waiting for What Sarah Said: my highlight of the album. Here we finally discover how the album’s title Plans, works. “And it came to me then that every plan, is a tiny prayer to father time…” Written from the perspective of a loved one sitting in the waiting room of an Intensive Care Unit, this beautiful track hit me hardest during the summer of 2006 when I watched my good friend question daily for weeks whether his wife would make it out of VGH. She did, but I still can instantly see his worn, unshaved face when I hear Gibbard almost whisper, “love is watching someone die.”
Then, there is just enough musical interlude to force you to reflect on the implicit question that will eventually be explicitly sung: “who’s gonna watch you die?” Not accusing or mean in anyway. Ben almost sounds like he actually cares about me.
And he does. Well, he cares enough to cushion the album with a couple more songs that pull me out of “what Sarah said” and not remain fetal the rest of my day. Not that Brothers on a Hotel Bed doesn’t deserve some thought and interest in it’s own right, but at the moment I’m tired, and can’t talk too long of beds without climbing into one. Basically it’s more on the obvious themes of the album, and it’s catchy.
And then the album ends. With Stable Song, which is really not much more than a somewhat un-striking yet appropriate ending. Perhaps a little too self-aware with an opening line like, “time for the final bow”, but I forgive it fairly easily, because just as the song admits in it’s conclusion, “the gift of memory’s an awful curse, with age it just gets much worse, but I won’t mind.”
Ps. I do realize that I am now officially over a day behind in this blogging project. I might try to catch up with myself, but I also might just ignore it and end on the 1st of January. I got over my unmet expectations, and hope you can too. 😉