Death Cab For Cutie’s new album, “Narrow Stairs,” is a masterpiece. This incredibly relatable album grabs listeners for the whole 45 minutes, dragging them through stories of heartbreak, loss, jealousy, and deception. Whether it’s a tragic break-up or a drastic change in your life, you can’t help but feel as if songwriter Ben Gibbard is literally reading your mind.
In comparison to previous Death Cab albums, “Narrow Stairs” has a different tone. With their breakthrough album “Plans” (2005), there really was no telling what this small indie college band from Seattle would come up with next. Death Cab undoubtedly exceeded the expectations of their faithful fans, and most importantly, they did it while keeping the artsy edge we all love.
The intimate and heart-wrenching irony of Gibbard’s lyrics sets a melancholy mood for the album. With lyrics like “With idealistic timing the optimist died inside of me,” it’s hard to feel hopeful.
Along with melancholy, this album has irony written all over it. In almost every song you’ll find the irony of loving someone who doesn’t love you back, holding onto a relationship that has nothing left, or staying with someone you care absolutely nothing for.
“Narrow Stairs” tends to lack optimism and hope, but that seems to be the brilliance of it. Gibbard’s despondent perceptions on failed relationships and love are apparent in songs like “You Can Do Better Than Me” and “The Ice Is Getting Thinner.” This album gives the listener a sense of comfort in its dreadfully depressing lyrics. It’s comforting to know you’re not the only one feeling such loss. Death Cab requires an objective audience; songs like “Talking Bird” or “Cath …,” might not seem all that imposing for some, but it takes a true fan of music to appreciate the poetic flow of Gibbard’s lyrics.
It is easy to overlook the depressing message Death Cab seems to be conveying in this album. With their catchy electric sound, you’ll find yourself dancing and singing along, only to realize you’re singing about lack of sunlight and optimism. The irony is priceless.
I definitely recommend “Narrow Stairs” if you’re feeling blue and need something to relate to. Death Cab For Cutie will be there with a shoulder to cry on.
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