Death Cab for Cutie

We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes; The Forbidden Love EP
(Barsuk)

Death Cab were my most pleasant discovery of last year. Theyíre back for a return visit in 2000 and will probably land in my year-end top 10 yet again. We Have the Facts... was released this past spring and the band has a new accompanying EP out that is well worth finding. The full-length abounds in catchy tunes that are a bit less over-winding than those that appeared on last yearís Something about Airplanes. In other words, the vestiges of Built to Spill are totally stripped away to the added benefit of the songs. Ben Gibbardís voice is inviting and his lyrics make you listen closer to the stories heís telling -- usually about my favorites: love and loss. The seductively simple circular chord progression of "405" mirrors the narratorís aimlessness of driving drunk on a circumferential interstate pondering the lost "you." All of a sudden, itís not so simple anymore.

The albumís linchpin is the back-to-back diptych "Company Calls" and "Company Calls Epilogue." Employing overused business buzzwords to define a relationship ("letís cut our losses at both ends"), the setting is the emotional poverty a paycheck is really worth since we all know what money canít buy. In the epilogue, the narrator receives an invitation to an exís wedding and looks forward to getting "dressed up for free drinks and family greetings." One trip to the complimentary bar leads to many and all of sudden heís "crashing through parlor doors" demanding to know how the bride feels before launching into a too-late admission: "You were the one, but I canít spit it out when the dateís been set." A stunner.


The EP collects three new songs, including the winning "Photobooth" about a summer affair, as well as an acoustic version of "405" and an alternate take on "Company Calls Epilogue." Well worth the extra splurge.

Ratings: We Have the Facts and Weíre Voting Yes -- 8; Forbidden Love EP -- 8.

Tim Frommer


Something About Airplanes
(Barsuk/Elsinore)

Pay no attention to the ridiculous name, this is a gem of an album. A co-release from the microscopic labels Barsuk and Elsinor (from Seattle and Bellingham, WA, respectively), Something about Airplanes is a must for those intoxicated by Built to Spill. Long, winding guitar-driven tracks with sardonic lyrics to match. A song title like "Champagne from a Paper Cup" gives you the idea of where songwriter Benjamin Gibbard is coming from. Gibbard seems to be cut from the same intellectual cloth as David Berman from Silver Jews and pours his smarts into the inevitable, but appreciated, songs about girls. "Your Bruise," my favorite, not only name-checks Helium's Mary Timony, but opens with the observation "you're so far-sighted that you can't place trust in what or who you recognize."

I have yet to grow tired of hearing the cello in rock and the few songs it's employed on here reinforce that feeling. Not as low as a bass and with a resonant tone, I just hope its frequent recurrence in general won't turn it into clichť. All this and a great CD booklet with a die cut cover and vellum flysheet. Highly recommended.

Rating: 7

Tim Frommer


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