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Narrow Stairs

Release Date: 05.13.08
Record label: Atlantic Records
Genre(s): Rock


The Best Cab Ride Yet
by: Tim Wardyn

Death Cab for Cutie has been the go-to band for anyone who is looking for an indie music fix for the past few years. Ever since 2001’s “Transatlanticism,” Death Cab has entranced music lovers everywhere with they’re literate storytelling and melancholy music that tugs at the heartstrings of anyone listening. Their latest, “Narrow Stairs” takes their storytelling to an all-time high and the music is the best it’s been.


Their major label debut, “Plans” found the band in a musically lighter mood and almost stalled in their own sound. The opener for “Narrow Stairs,” “Bixby Canyon Bridge” shows the band has grown out of their funk and expanded their sound to blissful results. Beginning with ethereal ambience, lead singer Ben Gibbard’s lullaby quality voice enters and instantly reels in the listener and leads them to marching guitars and drums and then finally into a blooming instrumental wonderland only to finish with harsh static and noise in general and Gibbard’s voice fighting through it all.


The band then follows that up with one of the most infectious drum and bass lines of the year on the 4:33 intro to the nearly nine-minute “I Will Possess Your Heart.” They bring back the rock as well on “Long Division” and “Cath…” a song about a bride on her wedding day who “It seems/ That you live someone else’s dream/…/ With the things that could’ve been, all repressed/ But you said your vows/ And you closed the door/ On so many man/ Who would’ve loved you more/ And soon everybody will ask/ What became of you.”


The thing that makes Gibbard’s lyrics so poignant is that virtually everybody can relate to at least one of these songs, but few can so eloquently put the scenes into words.


“Grapevine Fires” takes the scene of a fire through the eyes of a couple who “Drove to a cemetery on a hill/ Where we watched the plumes paint the sky grey/ As she laughed and danced through the field of graves.”


“Your New Twin Sized Bed” takes a heart wrenching breakup and puts an even greater sense of loneliness to it. “You used to think that someone would come along/ And lay beside you in the space that they belonged/ But the other side of the mattress and box spring stayed like new/ And what’s the point of holding on to what never gets used/ Other than a sick desire for self-abuse/…/ It’s like you’re in some kind of hurry to say goodbye.”


“Narrow Stairs” finds Death Cab for Cutie not only expanding their game, but staying on top of it even more than they were on “Transatlanticism.” The music is better than ever and the lyrics still have a way of hitting you in ways no other artist is able to. Death Cab for Cutie have just further solidified their stance as the go-to indie band for any listener.