death cab for cutiethe open door ep
  • MONDAY, APRIL 13, 2009

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Taking a look at Death Cab For Cutie's career to date, it almost seems as if there have been two completely different bands at work, with only Ben Gibbard's voice providing the link between the pair. Early efforts - namely their 2001 release, The Photo Album and subsequent release, Transatlanticism - showed the potential these much beloved sentimentalists were capable of. And in 2005, it all culminated in Plans; the band's career defining album. But after three long Death Cab-less years, the band seemed to stumble a bit with their 2008 effort, Narrow Stairs. While that album might very well be their most commercially successful album to date, musically it failed to build on the greatness of Plans.

The Open Door EP - the band's latest release - is an EP of four songs that didn't fit into Narrow Stairs' plans, as well as a demo version of the song "Talking Bird". Upon listening to these songs it becomes understandable why they were left out of the final mix. Quite simply, these songs are unremarkable at best. Take "Little Bribes" and "A Diamond and a Tether", for example. It's sad to say, but this time around Death Cab have churned out an everyday batch of generic pop songs. "My Mirror Speaks" at least gives a little life to this boringly begun EP. A driving bass-line leads the way, while drums and hand-claps give the song a little bit of much lacking excitement.

If I had to pick highlights, the EP's standout tracks would have to be "I Was Once a Loyal Lover" and "The Talking Bird" demo. The former is a song that may have fit better on Plans than Narrow Stairs. With Gibbard's famous falsetto harmonizing nicely with the backup vocals, the song has the catchiness that was lacking throughout most of Narrow Stairs. While "The Talking Bird" is pretty much exactly as it is on the album, it is still one of the better moments on Narrow Stairs, and thus one of the better moments on this EP as well. These two songs however, don't do much to salvage what will most likely turn out to be a pretty forgettable EP in the ever growing Death Cab For Cutie catalog.

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