CD Review of “The Open Door” EP by Death Cab for Cutie
April 10, 2009
Steamboat Springs — “The Open Door” has more spunk to it than Death Cab for Cutie’s recent releases, and the added energy works well. Leadman Ben Gibbard’s songwriting stays in the “well, that was a little cliche” line, but he avoids the kind of false weight sometimes applied on the band’s last two LPs, “Plans” and “Narrow Stairs.”
Take “The Open Door” opener “Little Bribes”: It’s not a happy song. It’s about desperation and loneliness in Las Vegas, and more generally, in life. But it has lightening touches like, “Pretend that every slot machine is a robot amputee waving hello / The people stare into their eyes and they feed them little bribes and then they go.” It’s also a love song.
Sound-wise, Death Cab for Cutie hasn’t made any significant shifts since the band debuted in 1998 – it’s low-key indie rock with an occasional ill-fitting but well-written pop interlude. That background allows Gibbard to put whatever lyrics he wants into the mix, always with listenable results. It’s not a bad formula, in terms of longevity, but it stopped being especially interesting two or three albums ago.
– Margaret Hair, 4 Points