Death Cab for Cutie

Narrow Stairs

Could the new Death Cab for Cutie album be duller? Probably. But it could certainly be brighter. It appears as if Ben Gibbard and his Death Cab counterparts have been experiencing a melancholy few years since 2005’s Plans. Each song has a slow series of chords and steady, even static, melodies. Gibbard’s voice is charming as usual, but its charm doesn’t work its way into the woodwork of Narrow Stairs enough to polish it. There are a couple of exceptions: “I Will Possess Your Heart” is an interestingly creepy 8 1/2 minute semi epic, along with that song’s exact opposite, “Bixby, Canyon Bridge,” which leaves its mark at only 40 seconds. Narrow Stairs is missing the innocent vulnerability of previous Death Cab albums, and though the band seems to be moving in a more mature direction, the members still seem caught in the crossfire of youth and adulthood. With the progression of years and the intense talent of the members, however, it can’t be long before Death Cab resumes the standards to which their listeners have always held them.