Death Cab for Cutie

We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes

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Like the also-great Idaho or Wheat, to file Death Cab for Cutie under the mellow-pop umbrella that shelters tranquil chamber outfits such as Red House Painters, Low, or (post-dance-pop) Talk Talk would do them a gross, miscalculated service. While they're no strangers to the tickling knelling of guitars searching out the extra space found in laggard tempos, that predilection only encompasses a fourth of Death Cab for Cutie's output (like on "Title Track" and "Little Fury Bugs"). Heck, they're not even remotely quiet for half of We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes -- the best and brightest LP of their three fine albums to date. Ben Gibbard has turned into a sublime composer, using melodies sparingly but with splendid tunefulness, as all four players marinate his writing with delicately plucked, picked, and pulled arpeggios, ringing chords, and non-obvious atmosphere building. Verily, the slow, broody stuff is but a change of pace; it's when the volume doubles (if only occasionally crashes), when the band shows potency, that We Have the Facts starts flying, soaring with exigency beyond even the threatening storm clouds from the last flight plan, 1998's Something About Airplanes. "Lowell, MA" and "Company Calls" are perfect examples: drummer Nathan Good actually gets to punish his snare and toms, the other three dig in with him, and the words "indie pop" suddenly sounds fresh and alive, with real aggressive, post-dream pop guitar popscapes. Loud and soft, or most of all both, and plenty of points in between, DCFC write and record finished songs that emote, that do more than merely fill a slot in a form in a preconceived genre. In short, they're superb. And getting greater.

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