Death Cab for Cutie was my life for a brief period from 8th-9th grade. They were the first band I ever saw play live, and I probably cried at the concert. I hand painted not one, but two (very professional looking) fan shirts, and my best friend and I walked to Target at 8AM on the day Plans got released. Shortly after I completely stopped listening to DCFC. Maybe it was because Plans kind of sucked, or maybe I just grew up, but since I gave it up I always looked back on Death Cab as this kind of embarrassing band that represented a time in my life, but no substance or quality; like Jimmy Eat World. Then they we’re featured at prom on the OC and I spent the next 5 years denying I ever liked them. This weekend I returned to my parents house and re-discovered my Junior High journals with their lyrics scrawled all over them. Maybe I’m just drunk on nostalgia, but I’ve been listening through their back catalog and picked a sampling of 5 DCFC songs that still totally hold up.
5. Little Fury Bugs
This song is really indicative of how well Death Cab does melancholy. It’s not as saccharin and overwrought as a lot of Gibbard’s lyrics (I’m looking at you Postal Service), but the words still get across sadness immediately. “You’ll discover that casual friends kept notes in their pockets to remember your name” and “sleeping soundly, the back of the car felt more like a home than i would ever have thought” hit you where it counts without pulling out all the stops.
4. Crooked Teeth
This is just a really good pop song. The structure is so traditional with the rhythmic verse, the bridge and the infectious chorus. It’s also a summery song, which is totally out of character for Death Cab and appreciated by me. It suffers from a painful ending section with Gibbard trying to go all Simon and Garfunkel but I really felt like some of their newer catalog needed to be represented and this is as good as it gets.
3. Champagne From A Paper Cup
Mostly this song is good because Gibbard embraces his nasal voice and doesn’t try to croon. Really though, DCFC’s greatest strength is their ability to create a distinct time and place with their lyrics and this song does a great job with that. Simple drum work never hurts if you’re trying to get in my favor.
2. We Looked Like Giants
Again, the lyrics really do it here, just specific enough for every person to feel it was written just for them. This is certainly my most listened to Death Cab song, and one of their most exciting and sexy (a quality rarely found in indie rock).
1. Title and Registration
Transatlanticism, despite being totally uneven, does have the best DCFC song ever. Again, the simple drumming gets me, but the seamless transition in mood and tone from the verses to chorus is what makes this song a real stand out in my eyes. This is the song I still have running through my head every few weeks.