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4.4 39
by Death Cab for Cutie

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Death Cab for Cutie have been one of the slowest-percolating overnight success stories to hit the rock world in recent memory. The Seattleites' nearly decade-long slog through the indie-rock ranks -- assisted in no small way by frequent namechecks and a live performance on Fox's hit dramedy The O.C. -- culminates in a sudden uptick in mainstream profile on this


Death Cab for Cutie have been one of the slowest-percolating overnight success stories to hit the rock world in recent memory. The Seattleites' nearly decade-long slog through the indie-rock ranks -- assisted in no small way by frequent namechecks and a live performance on Fox's hit dramedy The O.C. -- culminates in a sudden uptick in mainstream profile on this major-label bow. The leap to more rarified company hasn't much changed frontman Ben Gibbard's worldview -- on the typically stark "What Sarah Said," he ponders sitting in a hospital room watching a loved one die slowly -- but it has made quite an impact on Death Cab's sound. At once more spare and more slick than their past outings, Plans is a definite throwback album, reminiscent of mid-'70s singer-songwriter discs on which piano and empty space were the primary coloring tools -- particularly on songs like the painstakingly denuded "Summer Skin" and the achingly deliberate "Brothers on a Hotel Bed." The instrumental palette does open up here and there, with organ flourishes propelling "The Marching Bands of Manhattan" and Flaming Lips–worthy kitchen-sink psychedelia draping "Your Heart Is an Empty Room." But at its core, Plans is more conspiratorial than anthemic; one gets the sense that Gibbard would just as soon whisper his confessions into listeners' ears one at a time as air them on a stage. That intimacy not only makes Plans easy on the ears, it gives it an immediacy that's hard to resist.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Rob Theakston
For your consideration: a wildly successful indie rock band with a legion of followers on an equally successful, highly credible independent label makes the jump to major-label powerhouse Atlantic, leading to much chagrin and speculation among its fans as they awaited with bated breath for what would happen to the group. The result was For Your Own Special Sweetheart, inarguably the most polished and fully realized album of Dischord alumnus Jawbox's career. Fast forward ten years and you find Barsuk's Death Cab for Cutie in the same position, making the same move. A new label, a larger crowd (thanks to their repeated appearances on The OC), and a side project of Ben Gibbard (Postal Service) that very well overshadowed the success of his main project. All of the moves were perfectly aligned to take the little band that could into the rock stratosphere. But the difference between Jawbox and Death Cab for Cutie was that For Your Own Special Sweetheart went on to be the finest release of Jawbox's canon. Plans definitely comes close to that mark, but falls slightly short. In comparison to the dry, raw production of Transatlanticism, Plans is warm and polished, the kind of album expected from a band obsessed with the sound of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. Chris Walla does an amazing job bringing the group's sound in a different direction than before without compromising too many of the things that made the group sound great to begin with. Thematically, Plans is the Death Cab for Cutie suitable for graduate students, world-weary and wiser from their experiences, realizing they can no longer be love-starved 20-somethings without a clue yet hopelessly cursed to face the same issues. And there's merit to be had in acknowledging that maturity, for even blink-182 figured out their age and released their "serious" album. Gibbard's wispy, poetic lyrics (which could easily have been stolen from Aimee Mann's dressing room while she wasn't looking) still remain an artery from which the rest of the band beats and are some of his finest ever, but this time around the band aligns itself more with a series of emotional murmurs rather than a heart attack. The album winds its way from one ballad to the next, with brief stopovers at moderately up-tempo numbers to help break things up a bit. And it's this sense of resignation that either makes or breaks the album, depending on which Death Cab for Cutie is your favorite: the melancholic, hopeless romantic or the one who wears its heart on its sleeve with unbridled energy and passion. If Transatlanticism was Gibbard's Pet Sounds and Postal Service was SMiLE, then this is definitely Wild Honey, loved by adoring new fans and those who enjoy the ballads. But those hoping for a bit more -- for the bar to be raised higher -- might find this a mildly predictable exercise in Gibbard exorcising the demons of Phil Collins that haunt him. Plans is both a destination and a transitional journey for the group, one that sees the fulfillment of years of toiling away to develop their ideas and sound. But it's with the completion of those ideas that band is faced with a new set of crossroads and challenges to tread upon: to stay the course and suffer stagnation or try something bold and daringly new with their future. Which road they'll take will make all the difference.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Death Cab for Cutie   Primary Artist
Sean Nelson   Harmony
Chris Walla   Group Member
Ben Gibbard   Group Member
Nick Harmer   Group Member
Jason McGerr   Group Member
William Swan   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Stuart Hallerman   Engineer
Kip Beelman   Engineer
Kevin Suggs   Engineer
Chris Walla   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Ben Gibbard   Composer
Mike Lapierre   Engineer
Jason McGerr   Composer
Justin Armstrong   Engineer
Beau Sorenson   Engineer
Will Markwell   Live Sound
Adde Russell   Artwork
Robbie Skrocki   Engineer
Austin Sousa   Engineer
John Byrd   Live Sound

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Plans 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite possibly one of the greatest and most poetic bands that i have had the privilage of listening to originally was passed over for an equally great artist. But upon further listening to tracks like "soul meets body" and "Follow you into the Dark" the genious of Death Cab came shining through. It was the clever use of metaphors, the lush arrangements, and the always hesitant, but assured vocals that first caught my attention. The album is a breeding ground for some of the most beautiful landscapes of aural exploration and emotional contemplation i have ever heard. The genious lies not in the songs individual complexity, but in the simplicity and raw emotion that cant be easily duplicated. This album is an adventure in self discovery, emotional longing, and a quest to understand the complexities of life, death, and all that there is in between. A must listen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
normally, I wouldnt give 5 stars to someone so easy, but I believe Death Cab has the right to it. Right away I liked this album. I like every song on this album, and I liked them with the 1st listen. Death Cab, Im impressed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What can I say about 'Plans'? Death cab's best yet! The indulgent voice of Bem gibbard is put to good use in the powerful songs on the album. The much loved 'I will follow you into the dark' has already met it's share of success and other tracks such as the rock- based 'Crooked Teeth', 'Soul meets body' and 'Your heart is an empty room' are no doubt headed for the billboards. Death cab's reminisent vocals and heartfelt melodies are sure to caputre your heart as they have mine. I reccomend this timeless album to anyone, any age, anywhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best CD's ever. I love it! GO DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE!
Anonymous 9 months ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like this album
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent cd!! But I love all of Ben Gibbard's music.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Trans will always be a favorite, but after owning all of Death cab's collection, this is smooshed right up next to Transatlanticism. Excellent, classic Death Cab. Granted it never really 'rocks out' but who cares? I'm just happy they didn't totally change with their first major label release. This album is lovely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As someone who would normally pass on so-called "indie" bands due to elitist attitudes and obtuse stylings, a single on the radio from this album caught my ear. What "Soul Meets Body" led me to was a wonderful palette of metaphors and melodies that was DCFC. I had never heard any of their previous material, but I am very impressed with the lyrics of this album. In a world of trite, emo-laden songs, here is a band who takes the act of songwriting seriously. It seems to me, that all the songs on this album deal with death, or at the very least some sort of loss, and how it intersects wtih love and honor. They are poignant without being sappy or overly sentimental. It's the first CD in a long time that I have listened to from beginning to end, hanging on every phrase of every lyric. If I had to pick a favorite, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" would be it. Give yourself some time to earnestly listen to the tracks, so you can focus on those lyrics. This is a CD best enjoyed at home, in quiet contemplation, or on a long drive by yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, amazing album. I got it the first day it came out and it was great. Personally I liked their previous album, Transatlanticism better, but this album is close behind. I love dcfc.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Death Cab For Cutie strikes a few familiar chords with "Plans" but doesn't fail to impress. It only receives a four here because "Transatlanticism" wasn't allowed six. The title track, "Marching Bands of Manhattan," is a beautiful opener. The band's intoxicating melodies and pointed lyrics stick out from the start. "Soul Meets Body" and "Summer Skin" follow, and with a catchy chorus in hand, they are sure to be favorites. A new addition on "Plans" is the acoustic attempt with "I Will Follow You into the Dark." It includes a simple string, but lead singer Ben Gibbard delivers. In convincing fashion, he makes the topic of death a remarkable love song. Gibbard's lyrics amaze throughout, and the band goes along for the ride. The music never becomes as harsh as it did on tracks like "The New Year" and "We Looked like Giants" from "Trans," but don't let that worry you. Loyal fans will not be let down. "Plans" is a lyrical masterpiece. It questions who will watch us die and gives us hope and love in the midst of an overall, mournful tone. Produced by their very own Chris Walla, these next 11 tracks from Death Cab will not disappoint. Death Cab fans need only rejoice, for they have found a miracle in singer-songwriter, Ben Gibbard.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really good album, but I'd like them to go back to the post-rock that they did so well. Now this is sounding not far from true emo, and the lyrics don't have the poignancy that they had on Transatlanticism.
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