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Narrow Stairs CD (2008)

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Product Overview

When asked to describe Death Cab for Cutie's sixth studio album, Narrow Stairs, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Walla characterizes it as "having teeth," and we can't think of a more apt summarization of the disc. While many bands in Death Cab for Cutie's situation would try to recreate the success of hit songs like "Soul Meets Body" or "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," instead the band have crafted the most ambitious and varied album of their career by simply doing what they've been doing since they formed in Bellingham, Washington a decade ago -- made a brilliant record that refuses to pander, while stretching the artistic boundaries of what a Death Cab for Cutie record should sound like.


Label Kultur
SKU 207941267
UPC 075678994654
UPC 14 00075678994654
Format CD
Release Date 5/13/2008
Author Death Cab For Cutie
Artist Bio
Death Cab for CutieAfter spending much of 2006 in the midst of a turbulent tour cycle surrounding their RIAA platinum, Grammy-nominated album Plans, the band took a well-deserved break during the first part of 2007. Frontman Ben Gibbard embarked on his first-ever solo tour; guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Walla released a solo album and produced records for acts like Tegan & Sara; drummer Jason McGerr constructed his own recording studio, Two Sticks; and bassist Nick Harmer, as always seems to be the case, worked on various projects. If Plans was a collection of firsts -- Death Cab's first album for a major label; the first disc to feature songwriting contributions from someone other than Gibbard; the first Death Cab disc recorded with the same drummer as the one before -- Narrow Stairs feels more like home.The decision to record the new album at McGerr's Two Sticks, Walla's studio Alberta Court, and long-time friend John Vanderslice's studio Tiny Telephone allowed the band to abandon self-conscious tendencies in order to craft the most creative album of their career. "I wanted more than anything to create a professional studio that was also somewhere that was comfortable to hang out in," says McGerr about the conception and construction of Two Sticks (which was designed largely with the Narrow Stairs sessions in mind). "To do that, I had to take into account what we all love and hate about the studios we've been to, and make it comfortable enough to spend five or six weeks there at a time without feeling homesick." That environment, combined with the heightened amount of collaboration on the new songs, makes Narrow Stairs the climactic culmination of Death Cab's first ten years.While much of this is due to the musical and emotional relationship the current quartet have developed over the last few years of playing, singing, and touring together, it can also be attributed to the environment Narrow Stairs was tracked in. According to Harmer, the album was recorded "with all of us sitting in a room looking at each other," making the sessions seem more like a typical band practice than a high-budget recording. And listening back to these eleven songs, there's a level of intimacy that couldn't have been attained any other way. "There was a lot of talk about what we wanted to accomplish as a rhythm section," Harmer continues, adding that he took acoustic bass lessons in order to stretch out on the record. "I just wanted to think of my instrument in a different way."
ReviewSource The Onion A.V. Club
Review Death Cab For Cutie multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Walla sounded the alarm just after New Year's: In one interview, he described Narrow Stairs as a "total curve ball" and a "really polarizing record" that's "got some teeth." To drive the message home, the band designated the eight-minute "I Will Possess Your Heart" as the album's first single, albeit in truncated radio-ready form...But change is always relative. For a generally fey band like Death Cab, a darker, more abrasive approach has produced simply its most rock 'n' roll album to date. "Bixby Canyon Bridge" opens the album in typical Death Cab fashion, with a ghostly guitar and Ben Gibbard's voice. Bass and a second guitar come in intermittently, and a hi-hat ticks quietly...Those moments are more common on Narrow Stairs than on its predecessors: "No Sunlight," "Long Division," and the end of "Pity And Fear" all have that rock-band urgency. They're nicely complemented by the sunny '60s pop of "You Can Do Better Than Me," the chilly slowness of "The Ice Is Getting Thinner," and "Cath...," which sounds like an unreleased track from 2000's We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes. Narrow Stairs finds Death Cab comfortable with all aspects of its musical personality--and on top of them all.
Reviewer Kyle Ryan
ReviewRating 10
Product Attributes
Artist Death Cab For Cutie
Label Atlantic/q Records
Music Format Compact Disc
Billboard ...a full-on assault of crunching guitar riffs, distorted, cracked vocals and walls of disorienting feedback...
Blender ...matches "Transatlanticism" as Death Cab's best.
Boston Globe This time out the musical gambles are bolder and the outcome proportionally more dramatic.
Rolling Stone Gibbard's indie-rock blues still plumb emotional depths with remarkable literary detail.
Tiny Mix Tapes ...the sound of a band falling in love with the concept of sound...[Gibbard's] voice has never sounded more different and varied.

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