Story Sensations

Transatlanticism (Barsuk Records)
Death Cab For Cutie

By John Bohannon

Death Cab for Cutie is far from a mainstream success, but maybe not as far as one might think. With the band's new album Transatlanaticism tearing up the college charts and the band's prevalent live show getting equal hype, it makes you ask yourself if you want a ride in the death cab. Frankly, I recommend it. While many bands have burned out by their third or fourth album, this quartet from Washington, now on its fourth full-length album (not to mention all those brilliant EPs), seems to be working its way to the peak of the mountain.

"As 30 dialogues bleed in to one" is a line from the opening track, "The New Year." This seems to be lead singer Ben Gibbard's trademark -- telling simple stories of conflicted times that relate to a general crowd. So it goes with this album and it doesn't get any better than this. "The New Year," about this holiday just being another day without a resolution, opens with slightly distorted guitars that supplement the track perfectly, just as the song itself supplements the album perfectly to set just the right tone.

The next two tracks, "Lightness" and "Title and Registration," are melodic love songs using drum machines and perfectly fit guitar riffs. The album does seem to slow down a bit during these songs, but soon finds its tempo again.

The rather poppy "Expo 86" is about someone waiting for something to go wrong in a relationship. Even more poppy is "The Sound of Settling;" this song reflects that feeling you get when you can't muster the guts to ask out that one person you've been "passionate" about forever. Similarly, the dismal "Tiny Vessels," reminisces of the time you found what seemed to be the perfect person, but yet didn't find yourself interested in them.

Along comes the piano-driven title track, which clocks in at eight minutes. This song possibly makes Gibbard's biggest statement as a writer, as it explains how the Atlantic Ocean was built to keep him far away from a girl that he wanted closer. And so Gibbard takes us through such emotions until we reach the simple and melodic closer, "A Lack of Color."

"And I should have given you a reason to stay" are the last words we hear on this final track. With this effort Death Cab For Cutie has given us every reason to want it to stay. This album succeeds in taking the listener through many relative life stages and across an ocean of emotions. For any Death Cab fan this is a must have and if you're not so familiar with the band, it is a definite album for the wish list.