Death Cab for Cutie

The Open Door EP

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Arriving one year after the release of Narrow Stairs, the five-song Open Door EP pairs four abandoned tracks from the Narrow Stairs sessions with a ukulele-helmed demo of "Talking Bird." Although it's certainly a stopgap recording -- released just before the bandmates' final tour in support of Narrow Stairs, and intended to maintain their popularity throughout the subsequent retreat to the recording studio -- Open Door is also a strong display of Death Cab's literate, poetry-major pop, with fast tempos and bright melodies that sometimes contrast Narrow Stairs' autumnal moments. These once-discarded tracks don't sound any less tuneful than the band's recent output; "Little Bribes," in particular, could have bumped a lesser song off of the Narrow Stairs track list with its power pop bounce, while "My Mirror Speaks" wields a winsomely ascending chorus that finds Ben Gibbard reaching into his falsetto. Such tunes may not have suited the bittersweet beauty of Stairs, but they're quite good in their own right, making The Open Door EP something more than a fans-only release. The only arguable misstep is the demo version of "Talking Bird" (the only song to appear on Narrow Stairs, albeit in different form), whose bare-boned arrangement lacks the shifting dynamics of Death Cab's best material.

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