Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs

Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs
Death Cab’s transition from modest indie to major label platinum artist may have seemed easy but it came at a price: Ben Gibbard’s sentimentality. Indie rock’s pin-up for lovelorn and congenial prose, Gibbard’s successes have taken a toll on the now 30-something, who retreated to sunny California to write his band’s not-so-sunny sixth LP. Always one to parade his broken heart, on Narrow Stairs Gibbard has shed his vulnerable skin and unfortunately, along the way Death Cab have collectively lost that melodic lustre that made them so endearing in the first place. This can best be heard on bizarre first single "I Will Possess Your Heart,” a sprawling, unfriendly eight minutes of celestial guitar and piano, a skipping rhythm and Gibbard vocalising an obsessed stalker’s threat. While the band make things worse by getting overambitious with an incompatible tabla on "Pity and Fear,” it’s the outsider narrative completely absorbing Gibbard’s lyrics that’s the reason Narrow Stairs is so unsatisfying. He’s allowed to have a bad day but even the more positive vibes of a carefree pop song like "No Sunlight” or the Pet Sounding "You Can Do Better Than Me” spell out constant despair for our hero. Narrow Stairs is an inspired record but it’s also a heavily disappointing one. (Atlantic)