If you are reading this blog, then chances are that you have heard some Death Cab for Cutie. Well, today, the debut from Chris Walla, Death Cab’s guitarist and backup vocalist, was released. Field Manual was originally slated for a March 2007 release. Later it was pushed back to September, and then once again to January 2008. Not only were these two delays enough, it was almost delayed once again. Field Manual, as some of you may know, was confiscated by the Department of Homeland Security when crossing the US/Canada border in October via courier. Fortunately, the hard drive containing the tracks was returned to Walla, and now we have this album.
Death Cab is one of my favorite bands, and I tried to go into this album objectively and not compare it to the amazing albums that I have devoted so much life to, but I could not separate them in my mind. Musically and lyrically the albums are very different, which is not necessarily for the better. Despite the differences, the trademark Walla production is more than obvious. The ambient tones at the end of songs, guitar clarity and vocal production embody his style, and the style of a Death Cab record, but unfortunately this album does not live up. The first song, “Two-Fifty,” has a multi-track recording of Walla singing, which is hauntingly similar to the opening track off The Long Road Out of Eden, the new album by Eagles. “The Score,” the albums second track is a little stronger, but sounds like it could be a Foo Fighters song. Now, I don’t have anything against the Foo Fighters, but for some reason this song did not work for me.
The standout track is most definitely, “It’s Unsustainable.” Originally a title track (the album was first rumored to be titled It’s Unsustainable), it is the most powerful song on the album. Slow, but driving drums move the intro, moving into the most familiar sounding song on the album.
If I were looking at the album through more objective eyes, it would seem better than how I see it, and for that reason I give it a Pornstar ‘stache (3 out of 5).