By Martin Cizmar
If you’re someone like me who, somewhat embarrassingly, cannot get enough Ben Gibbard, I have some good news. No, not a new Postal Service album. Sigh.
Death Cab for Cutie’s debut album, Something About Airplanes, is set for re-release on Nov. 25. I listened to a label-provided download today, and was pretty impressed, since I’ve never heard the record. Put out a decade ago, it’s a fuzzy, demoish record that previews what became, arguably, the most popular indie sound of the noughties. Oh, and it comes with a bonus CD of the band performing at their first Seattle show at The Crocodile Club, so that’s pretty cool.
So what does it sound like?
“Bend to Squares,” the opener, takes its mood from a forlorn cello, set above a picked acoustic guitar to start the song. It’s a little more miserable-sounding than DCfC’s later work, which has always seemed to find the balance between sadness and despair, but it’s a well-written song. “President of What?,” which opened the original cassette version of the album, has a more familiar Gibbard sound, though a Pink Floydish spoken word lecture about children, inserted after the bridge, is half-baked and caused me to cringe ever so slightly. “Amputations” reuses the ploy, this time beginning the song with a snippet of dialogue by some preacher. It works just as poorly. “The Face That Launched 1,000 Shits,” is also a little more amateurish than the polished tracks on the record, a guitar cutting in and out in staccato rhythm while distorted guitar swirls and processing garbles that familiar boyishly sincere voice. The closer “Line of Best Fit” is an epic 7-minuter that almost, but not quite hits it’s stride.
Something About Airplanes is an interesting album for fans of Gibbard’s later work, but there’s no “The New Year” or “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” hiding here. Buy it for the live bonus disk if you buy it at all.