[image-4]Published May 08, 2008.
Death Cab for Cutie
This winter, with the distinctive bassline of "I Will Possess Your Heart" as score, deathcabforcutie.com hosted a video compiled from recording sessions. At the end of it, Ben Gibbard's disembodied voice drifted in with one of the hoariest rock cliches ever: "We don't have anything left to prove at this point, except to ourselves." But the dude was serious! "I Will Possess," the lead single from Narrow Stairs, is more than eightminutes long, with no words kicking in until 4:34. (It's also the "Every Breath You Take" of the emo generation.) While epic tracks are not new for the band, boldly defying music industry standards is. And it's especially poignant because Death Cab has found the balance between indie rock outfit and mainstream appeal, culling and disposing of the best and worst moments of its most emotionally successful album, Transatlanticism, and its most numbers-successful album, Plans. Narrow Stairs matches substance to style and the result is like Nada Surf with a shot of adrenaline---predictably solid with moments that induce giddy excitement. Most of the songs flow into one another---suck on that, mp3 generation---and feature long jam-outs, talking birds, mattresses discarded in alleys, California fires, math as a metaphor for love and, we swear, Bollywood rhythms. One of our most consistent bands finally got thrilling.