With new label intact, indie rock sensation Death Cab for Cutie has moved up in the world, so to speak. Ignoring the big no-no that is signing to a major label after several years of success on an indie one, Death Cab has made the leap that most indie groups dream of and dread at the same time. Nevertheless, while die-hard fans assert that the band had sold its butcher’s knife for vegetable cutters, the music remains as sharp as ever.
Plans is filled with melancholy, earthy tunes reminiscent of singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard’s other musical group, The Postal Service. Unlike Give Up, though, every song on Plans stands on its own. The album, in comparison with recent album releases, is also very organized. You can feel the connection of each song as it progresses as well as the consistency of mood that is carried from chorus to chorus.
Despite its tone, the album is fairly hopeful compared to Death Cab’s earlier efforts. It almost feels like pessimism has become a requirement for indie bands, so the change is more than welcome. Gibbard’s lyrics are stronger than ever here. The actual music almost seems secondary sometimes when compared to the accomplished power of Gibbard’s words. When Gibbard sings, “But I didn’t care where I was going. They’re all different names for the same thing,” you can feel the weight of the world crush down on you, but at least there’s someone to identify with. Certain emotions just seem impossible to convey on paper, but Gibbard always seems to find a way.
This album might as well be Gibbard’s heart served on a silver platter. Filled with poetry and compassion, it sets a new standard for indie rock- and maybe it will finally conquer the assumption that major labels destroy bands.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.