Cab for Cutie, Plans
Lots of people can and
do sing mopey songs about love, death and gloom. Death Cab for Cutie is
one of the few bands that does it well.
It’s a skill — angst
can so easily turn into whining; ruminations about life can quickly turn
into stuff your philosophy major friends say when they’re high. Death
Cab manages to stay just this side of that line.
Death Cab does good
with the “upbeat” songs (why the quotes? You tell me, how upbeat is
“Sorrow drips into your heart through a pin hole”?) and good with the
darker moods (of which there are many more). The peppy “Marching Bands
of Manhattan” (from which the previous line came) and “Soul Meets Body”
(the dancy second track) are sort of softly ’80s-retro.
The real beauty of
Death Cab comes in songs like “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” the
track from which the first quote came. Though the song is something of a
sweet love song about a couple beating back the fear of death (and
separation), it contains perhaps the best explanation of
lapsed-Catholicism I’ve ever heard. The narrator describes an encounter
with a nun “she told me, ‘Son/Fear is the heart of love,’ so I never
went back.” Pulling this off takes something more than your run-of-the-indie-radio-mill
use of emo sensibilities over catchy pop-rock.