I actually saw Death Cab For Cutie in concert before I had ever heard a song of theirs. I was in college, I knew the name, and a friend wanted to see the show, so I went with her. What I remember from the concert (other than the repeated refrain of “I loved you Guenivere” which I found particularly stirring) was just how much I enjoyed the show despite not knowing the songs. Usually, I’d be bored at a concert where the music was all new to me, but the band’s performance and sincerity was completely engaging.
In Charlotte, I briefly dated a girl who was obsessed with Death Cab. This was at the time “Plans” came out and while a lot of people were dismissing the album for being their first Major Label release, this girl loved it. Listening to the album over and over again in her truck, the album grew on me so much I had to eventually buy it for myself a few months after I stopped seeing her.
Most recently, Death Cab released “Codes and Keys,” an album that to my surprise has become one of my favorites of the year. Even more surprising, the song that has become my favorite is the album’s lovely coda, “Stay Young, Go Dancing.” Proving that a band can transition from morose to uplift without losing a step, this song is the most hopeful and uplifting piece in the band’s catalog, and I love it.
If there is a more satisfying message in a pop song this year, I haven’t heard it.