Death Cab for Cutie, A Sentimental Time Capsule

Death Cab deserves more than just a title as a ‘once upon a time favourite band’ of a seemingly far away place. They remain time capsules of emotion, so much so that I often find myself skipping past them when I brush against their songs on shuffle.  

They captured us in high school for a reason. Raw emotion being a novel part of experiencing everything for a first time, we were drawn into Ben Gibbard’s vibratoless voice because he cried nostalgia for a place we were experiencing so vividly.

I clung to my first heart ache with Transatlanticism. The kind of album you felt said everything for you as you laid awake at night. We sung the track “President of What?” as a shitty band at a shitty coffeehouse, seeming fashionably jaded. We listened to the album Plans and imagined our lives and older selves. There was some kind of shared consciousness with other fans- maybe you would never be able to communicate it but there was the slightest chance that anyone who liked this band possibly took away something that you did. Maybe they felt that deeply painful and yet still beautiful moment that Death Cab made sense of between what you were feeling and what was transpiring.

When Narrow Stairs came out we were disappointed, but no one who had felt so accommodated by their previous albums would admit this. I felt the grip that Death Cab had on me slip away with their next albums as the number of ‘firsts’ I had seemed to dwindle.

So on a shelf they will remain with other dusty indie-rock favourites like Stars. I often find myself asking if they didn’t age well, or we just stopped connecting with the over-earnest sadness that they gave lyrics to as we developed a distaste for misery in our twenties. I find myself avoiding this variety of music that was so integral to my existence in my middle teens. These songs still pack the punch that they always did, but now I identify with the overwhelming nostalgia that they seem to draw on. A nostalgia for a place that exists nowhere but memory.

The Atlantic was born today and I’ll tell you how…
The clouds above opened up and let it out.
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
When the water filled every hole.
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
Making islands where no island should go.
Oh no.