#10: Death Cab for Cutie / The Postal Service

Give UpI know they’re technically not the same group, but they have the same lead singer, they’re both currently in existence, and it’s really hard to separate the two in my mind.  Death Cab is a Seattle-based pop band that until last year’s Plans had released all of their albums under indie label Barsuk Records.  Now, they’ve hit it big, getting airplay on such popular shows like “The O.C.”  While I’m not a fan of such shows, I would rather they be playing Death Cab than, say, Justin Timberlake.

The Postal Service was actually the group that made me a Death Cab fan.  Although they share singer Ben Gibbard, TPS has a predominantly electronic sound.  As the story goes, Gibbard and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello collaborated on this record entirely through the mail, hence the name of the group.  According to current rumors, they are now recording again, though with a bit more sophisticated collaboration.

Now, as for Death Cab, I’m not familiar with any of their work from before 2003’s Transatlanticism, so keep that in consideration if you’re a hardcore fan reading this list.  Also, rather than describing each song musically, I’ll just give a favorite lyric or two and maybe explain my favorite part of the song.  The lyrics are what really make Death Cab great, anyway.  The songs themselves are basically all short pop songs with a catchy line or two (and in the best ones, a nice beat).  Now, here are my favorites, in reverse order:

10. The Sound of Settling – “I’ve got a hunger twisting my stomach into knots…” – I love how this song captures the idea that we all end up settling for less than the best in some areas and find ways to be happy about it.

9. We Will Become Silhouettes – “Our shells simply cannot hold all our insides in, and that’s when we’ll explode, and it won’t be a pretty sight…” – I just love that line.

8. Nothing Better – “Don’t you feed me lines about some idealistic future…” – The back-and-forth play against the female vocalist makes this song about a failed (or failing) relationship really work.

7. I Will Follow You Into The Dark – “Illuminate the ‘no’s on our vacancy signs…” – A touching acousting song.

6. Title and Registration – “The glove compartment is inaccurately named, and everybody knows it…” – Gibbard does a great job describing how a simple thing in life can remind you of something so much more important.

5. Sleeping In – “And concerns about the world getting warmer, people thought that they were just being rewarded…” – This is a great song to wake up to, or a good listen if you decide you’ve had enough of the world’s complacency.

4. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – “I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving…” – Unlike most other DC/TPS songs, the melody actually makes this one great for me, although the lyrics are pretty powerful, too.

3. Crooked Teeth – “You’re so cute when you’re slurring your speech, but they’re closing the bar, and they want us to leave…” – Another peppy song about an empty relationship.  Why can’t all pop writers be so creative?

2. Soul Meets Body – “In my head there’s a greyhound station where I send my thoughts to far-off destinations…” – The entire song captures one specific emotion perfectly.

1. Such Great Heights – “I hope this song will guide you home…” – This song got me started on Gibbard and his two groups, so #1 it will stay.  Oh, and the Iron and Wine version is not very good at all.  M&Ms can keep that version.

Honorable Mentions: Transatlanticism, Expo ’86, Different Names for the Same Thing, Marching Bands of Manhattan, Clark Gable.

Next in line is Muse, my Band of the Moment (TM).

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