Narrow Stairs

Narrow Stairs

4.0 25
by Death Cab for Cutie
     
 

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After spending the better part of a decade in the musical minor leagues, Death Cab for Cutie went pro with 2005's Plans, a record whose optimism and bright, Technicolor sound gave the band enough leverage to enter the mainstream. "Soul Meets Body" became their biggest rock single to date, but it was Ben Gibbard's delicate love song, "I Will Follow You Into the

Overview

After spending the better part of a decade in the musical minor leagues, Death Cab for Cutie went pro with 2005's Plans, a record whose optimism and bright, Technicolor sound gave the band enough leverage to enter the mainstream. "Soul Meets Body" became their biggest rock single to date, but it was Ben Gibbard's delicate love song, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," that earned the quartet a Grammy nomination and legions of new fans. Some bands might have taken a cue from that success and resigned themselves to a career of acoustic ballads, not unlike the Goo Goo Dolls' transformation in the mid-'90s. But Narrow Stairs roughs up Plans' bright palette with something starker, more harrowing, and altogether darkened by Gibbard's blues. No longer crooning about love or his desire to embrace all of Manhattan, the frontman lives inside his own troubled head on these 11 tracks -- or at least the heads of the characters he conjures up with ease, like some music-minded novelist with a knack for pop melodies and witty observations. There's "Cath," an ill-married girl who "holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child," as well as the creepy stalker in "I Will Possess Your Heart," who simply demands that his intended lover give him the time of day. Elsewhere, Gibbard sings about a friend's recent heartbreak by referencing her bedroom furniture ("Your New Twin Sized Bed"), offering up his concern -- if not quite his help -- while the band conjures up a lazy summer's day beneath him, layering gauzy keyboards with chiming guitar riffs. This sort of contrast between music and text plays an occasional role on Narrow Stairs, with songs like "No Sunlight" and "Long Division" pairing somber lyrics with upbeat, happy orchestration. But the album largely paints itself as the darker, mysterious cousin to Plans -- raw rather than polished, heartbroken rather than optimistic, enigmatic rather than energetic. Gibbard strings his words together with an army of free-flowing "ands" and "buts," and the resulting lyrics -- long, uncoiling sentences with no clear end -- mirror his characters' desperatation. Narrow Stairs is far from desperate, however, and the album's willingness to steer Death Cab into unfamiliar territory (or, to reference an earlier lyric, "into the dark"), is by far its biggest strength.

Editorial Reviews

Rolling Stone - Will Hermes
A dark, strangely compelling record that trades the group's bright melancholy for something nearer to despair.
Billboard
The songs here hit with a full-on assault of crunching guitar riffs, distorted, cracked vocals and walls of disorienting feedback, while lyrically, frontman Ben Gibbard visits the moodier and darker corners of his mind.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/09/2008
Label:
Barsuk
UPC:
0655173107515
catalogNumber:
31075
Rank:
22550

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Narrow Stairs 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gibbard continues to impress me. A masterful song writer to say the least. I like how they shifted from their normal upbeat stuff to a more serious, sad state. Great Stuff!
Guest More than 1 year ago
While there are a lot of up-tempo, musically exciting songs on this album, the lyrics can sometimes be even more depressing than previous projects. With Plans, the sadness was a sort of optimistic melancholy, whereas here there is more of a fevered depression. Don't get me wrong. Narrow Stairs is catchy and memorable, and possibly even better than Plans (and if not, just as good), only different. I don't agree with the reviews that say this album is a complete departure from Death Cab's style, however. There is a little bit of experimentation, such as the eight minute song, four minutes of which is an instrumental "jam" session. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you're already a fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a massive Death Cab fan, and I think that Transatlanticism and Plans are two of the best albums in my library. That said, this is the most boring, disconnected, disappointing and lyrically mundane thing I have heard from Death Cab yet. Buy it because it deserves a listen, if only to prove to yourself that they messed up. They could not have destroyed the concept of a flowing album like Transatlanticism more if they tried.
Guest More than 1 year ago
some death cab fans who have been around since the begining may not like this album, but i love it! i love every song on the album and recommened it to everyone. definatly a great album to get!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have only been a fan of DCFC for alittle bit. Prior to hearing Posses your heart I realized that this was not the Death Cab For Cutie I started to like. although I do not hate it it is still good. If you are a fan of Death Cab For cutie you might Like it but it is not what we are used too the band went more serious lyrics and strayed from ther quirky ones
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one Cd you need to buy
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a death cab fan since "facts" and this is definitely up there as one of their better albums in the repertoire, easily making their top 3 albums behind "we have the facts and we are voting yes" and "transatlanticism" respectively. Ben Gibbard, yet again, comes through with beautiful lyrics that paint the picture in your head of love, losing someone, etc. While producer, Chris Walla, makes everything seem as though it is one big flowing story, moving seamlessly from track to track. Thank you Ben, Chris, Nick, and Jason for righting the wrong that was done with the mix tape that was "plans" and making a truly beautiful masterpiece. there is no true reasons even needed for why this one is the top of the billboard 200.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is different yet similar to there others being that it still sound like DC4C Music. I have only been a fan for about a year or so. They took Indie rock and dropped there quirky lyrics to something more real and sing about situations in life that appear. It is a good album
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