Death Cab for Cutie – Open Door [EP] (released April 14)

Ben Gibbard’s distinctive vocals may be the defining element of Death Cab for Cutie’s sound. His plaintive, high register singing style likely turns off just as many fans as it draws in. One thing is certain, however: you will never mistake his voice for anyone else.

Death Cab has never been short on solid pop hooks or clever turns of phrase. The band has again honed some sharp and smart songs on “Open Door.” While these four tracks lack the lush arrangements one might expect from a band that has been around for just over a decade, the economical and plaintive treatments fit the tunes perfectly.

An EP often ends up being little more than throwaway tracks and filler, but “Open Door” feels like an album. These songs represent fully realized visions rather than half-baked ideas and hastily strung together tunes.

“A Diamond And a Tether” kicks off the album with a beautifully crafted, simply strummed chord progression and a melody that falls perfectly in the cracks of the accompaniment. It may not be the album’s best track, but it gets the ball rolling very nicely.

“My Mirror Speaks” uses a driving rhythm and a beautiful falsetto that chugs along nicely.

“Little Bribes” employs staccato punches and yet another amazing melody that all falls perfectly into a lush and organic bridge section.

I never really gave Death Cab a chance. I always assumed I would hate the music and lumped them in with the armies of whiny, emo bands in the world today. I realized how wrong I was after hearing “Open Door” and exploring a tiny fraction of the band’s catalog.
Death Cab for Cutie makes achingly beautiful pop music and “Open Door” falls right in line with the band’s most popular efforts.

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