Bixby Canyon Bridge – Alive. There it is, that signature Chris Walla ambient drone. It is almost the exact sound used at the beginning of Transatlanticism. In fact there are some parallels between “Bixby” and “The New Year.” At first it is not very apparent. Gibbard’s vocals take center stage for the introduction of Narrow Stairs. Layered upon the lyrics is the guitar, light drums, and then comes the familiarity found in “The New Year” with heavy drums beats, distortion, and the energy that shapes a great opener (shameless plug: check out our list of Great Openers, including “The New Year.”)
I Will Possess Your Heart – Groove. I have had this song for a while. The bass-line and the antagonistic guitar and piano make this song. And the length. Oh, the length.
No Sunlight – Catchy. Despite the song resounding a chorus about there not being sun, the feel definitely makes me think of summer days, car rides, and camping.
Cath… – Rocker. I keep thinking about how this album is supposed to be different, and it is so far, but I keep getting vibes from previous DCFC songs. This one reminds me of “Tiny Vessels.” Hmm, similarity to Transatlanticsim…
Talking Bird – Slow Dance. I would dance with my sweetheart to this song, and then at the end realize “oh shit, we aren’t meant to be together.” Which I am starting to get the feel that this is what the whole album is shaping to be about.
You Can Do Better Than Me – March. Sort of reminds me a Spoon song. Super short and earnest. The title says it all.
Grapevine Fires – Plans. Plans’ sound meets Walla’s activism meets “We Will Become Silhouettes.” It seems a little odd because this song has political tones to it, and Gibbard has never been known to express opinions via his music, but you know who has: Walla. Musically, the song is interesting with the electric organ and the drumbeat that sounds familiar to all the drums on Plans. I am not criticizing the drums, I love them, they are familiar, that is all.
You New Twin Size Bed – California. Why does the song have to sound like all those other California-toned songs? It is just the damn acoustic guitar. OK, lets put that aside for a bit. The electric guitar is great, almost like “My Name is Jonas” (check out our Great Openers!). The production on this song is great. It really brings out the instrumentation and lets us experience one of the goals of Narrow Stairs: to let us know that Death Cab is a collective of great musicians, not just a gifted songwriter.
Long Division – Expected. This is what I would have expected the next album to sound like a few months after Plans dropped. Familiar guitar sweeps and more distortion embody the song. When I say expected I am not thinking negatively at all.
Pity and Fear – Whatthefuck!? – Hell yes. This is what they meant by different. When I first heard this song via NPR, I thought it was a Radiohead song until that unmistakable voice came over the headphones. The electronic bongos signal a change, but hey, this is the second to last song…isn’t it a little too late for that? I don’t know because this is one of the best songs off the album, and it will take some more listens to have an opinion about placement. But one thing is for sure, it ends hella sweet.
The Ice Is Getting Thinner – Confirmation. Just as the song confirms my suspicions that the album is essentially about a breakup, it confirms that the guys are into something new. Ben on solo electric and then Walla (assumption) on slide guitar, the song provides to be the best choice for the closer, and in fact is a really, really great song.
I would post these, but I don't want Atlantic on my back, so here are some bootlegs off Narrow Stairs.
Proper review to drop on May 13th.