Hearing Ben Gibbard describe the new Death Cab in interviews as more abrasive, I had to chuckle picturing the sensitive poster boy fogging up his Buddy Holly glasses, throwing his sweater vest to the ground. Is it time for Death Cab to piss off some parents?
Not quite. But Narrow Stairs certainly doesn’t drip the same cutesy sap we’re accustomed to from these Seattleites. While their last disc, Plans, shone with good intentions, Gibbard explores darker content on Stairs, mostly recurring themes of loveless relationships and soul-sucking futility.
Opener Bixby Canyon Bridge, for example, begins with pounding rock chords before collapsing into a noisy wail as Gibbard laments a pointless search for meaning, while I Will Possess Your Heart, a love letter written by a man secretly watching from afar, rides a heavy bass line and ringing guitars. Not the rock assault Gibbard thinks it is, but certainly more hard-hitting than ever.
Death Cab for Cutie play Toronto Island on June 7.