Death Cab for Cutie has been called many things over the years: alternative, emo, and indie pop are just a few of the genres into which they have been stuck. They have been making music since 1997, and in the past nearly 20 years they have released seven studio albums thus far, not counting the extremely limited release of this year’s Live 2012 featuring Magik Magik Orchestra (4,000 copies).
Let’s take a look at our five favorite lesser-known songs from the band.
5. “Title Track” (from the album We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes)
The tongue-in-cheek title and placement of “Title Track,” the first track on the album We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes (which is obviously not, in fact, the album’s title track), is a solid example of the kind of poetry Death Cab can make with their music. The lyrics here read like a stumbled-upon diary entry, but then most of Death Cab’s songs do.
4. “President of What?” (from the album Something About Airplanes)
“President of What?,” the second track on Something About Airplanes, strikes our fancy because of its organ. While featured prominently throughout the song, we can’t help but feel like it’s playing the song off before it even got a chance to start. This gives the song an added punch of sadness, whether intentional or otherwise, and it also makes it sound quirky enough to qualify for an indie rock classification.
3. “Styrofoam Plates” (from the album The Photo Album)
The eighth track on The Photo Album, “Styrofoam Plates,” is one of our favorite lesser-known tracks for one reason: that first verse. We had to step back and do a double-take when we heard this one. You mean we weren’t the only ones to go through something so specific and morbid as to have our loved one’s ashes blow back into our eyes after spreading them at sea? A situation that becomes even more complicated when, as the song states, you didn’t have the happiest of relationships with said person.
2. “Tiny Vessels” (from the album Transatlanticism)
Oh, the feels. “Tiny Vessels,” the sixth track on the almost-as-good-as-Plans album Transatlanticism is comparable to the material of Bright Eyes in its anguished heartbreak. Ironic, isn’t it, how much it can hurt you to realize that you don’t really care about someone after you thought you were in love?
1. “What Sarah Said” (from the album Plans)
Here we have yet another song to place in the “someone else went through the exact same thing I did” column with “What Sarah Said,” the ninth track on the album Plans, which is arguably Death Cab’s finest album to date. Here they capture so well the melancholic feelings of hopelessness and despair that we all experience while sitting in the waiting room of a hospital, waiting for the inevitable and simultaneously hoping against it. The mark of a good musician is to put into words what we otherwise thought couldn’t be, and Death Cab for Cutie are experts.