If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied Illuminate the "No"s on their vacancy signs If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks Then I will follow you into the dark
— Death Cab for Cutie, "I Will Follow You Into the Dark"
Death Cab for Cutie are an indie rock band from Bellingham, Washington, formed in 1997 as a solo project of Face of the Band Ben Gibbard, a twenty-something science graduate who had previously been in other local bands such as Pinwheel and ¡All-Time Quarterback!. By 1998, Gibbard had recruited several band mates from his previous bands, most notably The Revolutionary Hydra, into a full-fledged band. Except for two drummer changes, the lineup has stayed constant ever since. The name was taken from the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band song of the same name, which that band performed in Magical Mystery Tour.Already well known in the Seattle area, Death Cab's breakout hit was their 2003 album Transatlanticism, which saw exposure in television shows such as The O.C. (in which it forms part of Seth Cohen's indie starter pack) and Six Feet Under. The attention prompted them to move from Barsuk Records, which had accommodated Gibbard and company for the past decade, to Atlantic Records. Since their move to Atlantic, they have steadily become more popular, with their following albums Plans and Narrow Stairs becoming increasingly popular and well selling.The band has four members:
Ben Gibbard: vocals, guitar, and piano
Chris Walla: guitar, piano, and producer
Nick Harmer: bass guitar
Jason McGerr: drums
...and have released seven albums and three [EPs] of note.
You Can Play These Songs With Chords (demo 1997, re-release 2002)
"... when our hearts stop ticking, this is the end, there's nothing past this."
Concept Album: We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes is considered by most fans to be a disguised example, at least for the first eight songs, which chronicle a relationship starting with a one night stand and ending with the guy crashing the girl's wedding to another guy. It's disputed whether the last two songs fit into the narrative or not.
The Open Door EP is about commitment issues.
Continuity Nod: In "Why You'd Want to Live Here" (a huge Take That at the city of Los Angeles), Ben refers to L.A. as "the belly of the beast." He must have had a change of heart at some point, because "Stay Young, Go Dancing" starts with the line "Life is sweet in the belly of the beast." (It's worth noting that when the latter song was released, he was married to Hollywood actress Zooey Deschanel. Although the song is also about happiness in grim circumstances - "though winter's advancing / we'll stay young, go dancing" - so it may not be much of a compliment to the city after all.)
The band recorded a cover of "Earth Angel" by The Penguins for the Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack.
Emo Kid: Subverted, much to the surprise to some new listeners of the band. With a name like that and Ben Gibbard's look, you'd expect him to be screaming about how life is unfair. In fact, quite a lot of Death Cab's songs are melancholy ballads.
The B-side "Stability"—actually an alternate version of the album track "Stable Song"—crosses the twelve-minute mark.
"We Looked Like Giants" can stretch to as long as ten minutes live, while versions of "Scientist Studies" and "Blacking Out the Friction" can reach nine.note The last case is only a partial example, though, as it generally segues into a cover of Björk's "All is Full of Love" in the second half.
The Something About Airplanes recording of "Line of Best Fit" is just over seven minutes, the last three of which (approximately) consist of a full-blown guitar and drum jam, though it starts slowing down towards the end.
"Marching Bands of Manhattan" ends with a solitary piano key. Also, "Pity and Fear" could be considered an example; the guitar seems to be building toward a crescendo and then suddenly stops dead. Word of God says that this happened when the recorder they were using to record the song broke, and they liked the effect it created better than the original end.
"You Can Do Better Than Me" sounds fairly upbeat and cheery, until you realize that the lyrics are about about someone who feels as though their relationship is falling apart, but their lack of self-esteem means that they're willing to cling to the relationship.
And now from Codes and Keys, we have "Underneath the Sycamore", an upbeat tune that begins with the character in the song dying in a terrible car crash! The song goes on to say that that the character finds their peace "underneath the sycamore" aka six feet under in a graveyard. Cheery!
"Your New Twin Sized Bed" is a catchy song about insecurity and failing relationships.
You look so defeated lying there in your new twin-sized bed,
with a single pillow underneath your single head...
Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Subverted to hell and back in "Styrofoam Plates", a rant by a young man, raised by a poor single mother, who refuses to talk nice about his dead father just because he's dead.
New Sound Album: While the band's sound has been evolving gradually since the beginning, "Codes and Keys" makes the most drastic stylistic jump. The lyrics are more optimistic than usual (probably because Gibbard was happily married at the time of its release) and there is a heavier emphasis on electronic instrumentation.
The LP before, Narrow Stairs, is cited by the band's fans as their turn to Darker and Edgier, with songs like "Grapevine Fires" and "The Ice Is Getting Thinner" taking the superficial emo categorization of Death Cab to a whole new level of half-truth.
Non-Appearing Title: Many songs, such as "Transatlanticism", "Title Track", "Lightness", "President of What?", "No Joy in Mudville", "Expo 86", "Grapevine Fires", etc.
The Nothing After Death: The "Dark" in "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" refers to both to the nothing after death and not knowing what happens after death.