|1998||Something About Aitplanes||Death Cab For Cutie||★★½||48||Rock||Indie Rock|
Death Cab for Cutie’s 1998 debut is far from the more accessible, sometimes cutesy and often relatable indie-pop music the band will become known for in the mid to late 2000s.
It’s a gritty, raw, gray and muted experience with limited hooks. The more DIY production quality kind of removes any chance of obvious warmth to shine through even when Ben Gibbard is bringing a bit more personality or quirkiness, and while tracks build in energy, there’s a consistent mid tempo, plodding feeling that kind of drains the life out of you.
It’s a far cry from peppy, upbeat future singles like “Soul Meets Body” or “Cath” or “You’re A Tourist.” And the really sad tracks on here – like the stellar “Your Bruise” — are less accessible and somewhat bleaker sounding than their future sad, personal but artistically captivating intimate tracks like “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” and “Lack of Color.”
I don’t actually mean any of this to sound like an insult. The album’s vision is clear, and in the often-times muddy, cold mix and production, the band can still hit on emotional marks and create an overall consistent feeling. They rely more on the complete package to make an impact, instead of individual well-written lyrical lines making the difference or having interesting guitar riffs get stuck in your head.
The album is pretty one dimensional start to finish, something that the band will rectify quickly moving forward, and a bit simple compared to some of the more intricate compositions they’ll release, but overall is an interesting look back at the start of Gibbard and Co. It shows they’ve been authentic from the beginning, while also contrasting with the maturity they show later on musically and lyrically.