Death Cab for Cutie–love songs for those who don’t necessarily want to feel like that’s what they’re listening to.

I was slightly disappointed by the band’s newest release, “Narrow Stairs.” They’re great musicians, but the album lacks meaning, and songs seem more written-to-get-an-album-finished than composed. The single “I Will Possess Your Heart,” seems to be an exception. There’s some great instrumentation, in it’s full length version but compared to their old stuff,song themes seem much more easy-to-read in terms of what he’s singing about. There’s a lot packed in there about relationships, but most of it seems pretty regretful, or at least hopeless.

“The Ice is Getting Thinner,” the last track, seems to put the nail in the “we’re over” coffin. “We buried our love in a wintery grave/a lump in the snow was all that remained/but we stayed by it’s side as the days turned to weeks/and the ice kept getting thinner with every word that we’d speak.”

Despite the powerful moments that there on “Narrow Stairs,” they seem few compared to what Death Cab did on other records. I thought their last album, “Plans” had much stronger songs as a whole.

Love of mine some day you will die
But I’ll be close behind
I’ll follow you into the dark
No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the Nos on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black
And I held my tongue as she told me
“Son fear is the heart of love”
So I never went back

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the Nos on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It’s nothing to cry about
Cause we’ll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the Nos on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the dark
Then I’ll follow you into the dark

–Death Cab For Cutie, I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Plans

This song is like the sensitive modern young guy’s “I Will Always Love You,” or something equally blatant. It’s poetic and simple, honest and touching. Great imagery, too–you can see that neon sign in the distance, with the illuminated no. Points for comparing heaven to a roadside motel.

It’s such a loyal, declarative love–i’ll follow you wherever. But it’s not too idealistic. After all, it is about what happens when you die. Seems to be a reoccurring theme for Gibbard. I think what’s so beautiful about this song is the everlasting hope that’s intertwined with death. Live a long, satisfying life full of sights and sounds, then, like tired travelers, find somewhere to stay when it’s time to rest, or at least have someone to rest with. It’s a nice thought. Quietly dressed with acoustic guitar, these lyrics standout like a beacon in what is otherwise a complex (read: awesome) album of interesting sounds and song development.

Now, I don’t think they should’ve made the same record twice, but “Narrow Stairs” feels like a step backward. “Plans” was so good.

But who knows, maybe it’s themes will grow on me, when the time is right for those songs to mean something, too.