• PK White

Death Cab For Cutie "Narrow Stairs" - Retrospective Review

7.5/10

A solid successor to what I would call Death Cab for Cutie's finest album Plans (although I know, many fans will call their masterpiece Transatlanticism). Narrow Stairs takes on a darker and more pessimistic tone holding a bit more closely to the emo-ish lyrics and sad-boi sounds of the early albums. Mixed with Chris Walla's fine production skills, and jangly guitar hooks, this record holds its own in their catalogue giving listeners a slightly different feel then the direction Death Cab seemed to be going, but while still sounding similar enough to its predecessor Plans. Bands often find themselves in a pickle following massively successful albums such as Plans which went platinum and stayed in the charts for nearly a year, even longer for the singles. To Death Cabs credit, Narrow Stairs was not at all the flop that too often can follow climatically successful records.


A top-heavy album for sure with the strongest songs seeming to be the first four on the record. Nick harmer lays its down on I Will Possess Your Heart, with that iconic bassline which stays relatively consistent throughout the whole song. A risky move to put an eight and half minute song on an indie record, but with plenty of momentum and new ideas being introduced throughout the song, they really pull it off. No Sunlight makes a seamless transition into Cath... with the guitar coming in just as No Sunlight is fading out. A catchy guitar lick and some dark lyrics gave the second single plenty of weight and turned it into a fan favorite. "And you closed the door, on so many men, who would have loved you more." Genuine lyrics that can sit in your stomach and bring to mind that one person... Authentic, and heartfelt lyrics for sure.


The real show stealer on this album might be the simple, yet groovy Your New Twin Sized Bed, with it's catchy descending chord line of just three chords. As simple as it may be, just as the punk rockers say, they're the right three chords! Ben Gibbard gives us some more somber lyrics over the simple, yet perfect instrumentation. One of many very emotional songs on a very emotional record. You can hear and you can feel the troubles Gibbard must have been going through in the years when this album was written. We all know, dark days can make the best music, just ask Fleetwood Mac.


The highs here just were not quite as high as on Plans. As fine as these songs were, nothing quite held the same weight as tracks like Brothers on a Hotel Bed, or the alternative rock magic that Soul Meets Body, and Crooked Teeth were. To their credit, Narrow Stairs does not have the filler tracks such as Someday You Will Be Loved on the predecessor, as every song on this record had its place, just some quite a bit more interesting than others. The three-album peak that was Transatlanticism, Plans and then Narrow Stairs was important for the world of alternative rock. Death Cab really established themselves as one of the top dogs in the genre at the time with Arcade Fire, The Shins, The Strokes, and a couple more. A nostalgic and emotional album, worth the listen every time.

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