Death Cab for Cutie

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AllMusic Review by

Death Cab brought forth this EP to coincide with a tour with Dismemberment Plan (dubbed, with great wit, "The Death and Dismemberment Tour"). Since the Seattle foursome's EP just prior to the album, Photobooth, was just as fantastic, there was every reason to anticipate this one too with licked chops. So it's a curt shock to find this one so incredibly without worth. Even without comparing it to a song of the timeless caliber of "Photobooth," the A-side here, "20th Century Towers," is a meandering piece of pointless scribble. It's as offhand a throwaway as one could imagine, from a group whose mixture of bright but brooding guitar textures and Ben Gibbard's stunningly detailed lyrics has been so distinctive and strong. Nothing happens, nothing moves for a glum and dull four-and-a-half-minutes, like a frowning Little League kid staring out a window at gameday rain. The promise of the piano-tussled "Stability" also fades into tedium by hovering uninvited for 12 minutes. There is no earthly reason its spare sweet melody and spinning riff needed to last longer than two minutes; thereafter, like a bunch of bad pork attached to a decent Congressional bill, it sinks from the weight of its endless inertia. Which leaves the Björk cover from the group's live sets, and the only highlight here, "All Is Full of Love." Though more fleshed out than the Icelandic wonder's ghostly, beatless original, the very obtuse nature of the original just makes this perfectly striking version too at home with the other two songs' unexpected rootlessness. It would have been better as a respite from the Death Cab norm, as a nice LP bonus track (all three of these cuts were once, on a limited edition version). Otherwise, it's best to ignore this trifle disappointment.

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