Naming your band after an obscure song from a British novelty act from the 1960s is a curious move. Yet, for Death Cab For Cutie, naming themselves after a song from The Bonzo Dog Band has worked for them for over twenty years.
Most widely known for their songs ‘I Will Follow You Into The Dark’ and ‘The Sound Of Settling’, their new effort ‘The Blue’ EP might show that the Washington quartet still have more to offer.
Opener ‘To The Ground’ mixes atmospheric synths with raw-sounding drums and guitars. The toe-tapping rhythm and Ben Gibbard‘s signature soft vocal delivery gives the track a warm and homely vibe.
Despite being based on a tragic event, ‘Kids In 99’ has a more upbeat, almost country-esque feel to it. Lyrically, it’s based on the Olympic Pipeline Explosion, where a gasoline pipeline in the band’s hometown of Bellingham, WA exploded, sending a fireball to the nearby Whatcom Falls. Three kids died as a result, one 18-year-old and two 10-year-olds. Despite the upbeat feeling of the music, the vocals still sound mournful, and the line, “In the waters where we used to swim / Where we thought we’d be young forever” really makes you emotional once you know the context.
The EP closes on ‘Blue Bloods’, which starts with a retro feel to it. The opening synth and drum lines sound like they’re coming from a record player. The retro vibe continues through the whole song, including the hypnotic guitar solo that starts a little over halfway in, and brings you right to the end of the record.
After over twenty years and nine albums, ‘The Blue’ EP shows that Death Cab For Cutie still have the ability to make atmospheric and brutally honest indie tunes, and that there’s still room for more in the years to come.
20/All things Scottish Rock/Emo/Metal