Death Cab for Cutie
The Open Door EP
May 21, 2009 Web Exclusive
Before they hit the big time and had money coming out of their ears, Death Cab For Cutie toured in a van, slept on floors and played small, smoky clubs rather than thousand-seater theaters and arenas. And, in between records (which were generally superior to their more recent work) they put out stop gap EPs to keep the bills paid and fans satiated between full-lengths.
So now on the heels of last year's Narrow Stairs LP comes The Open Door EP, with four songs culled from the Stairs sessions and a ukulele-backed demo-version of Stairs' "Talking Bird." By and large the material is decent, though despite what the band might say it's easy to see why these tracks didn't make the cut. Opener "Little Bribes," while memorable with its acoustic two-chord base, doesn't feel like it would've fit alongside the more subdued, somber Stairs. Along with "A Diamond and a Tether" the EP opens poorly in comparison to their would-be full-length, leaving the listener secure that the band knew what it was doing when crafting its latest.
Up next, however, are "My Mirror Speaks" and "I Was Once A Loyal Lover," wherein Gibbard sings "All my friends are forward thinking/Getting hitched and quitting drinking," thereby encapsulating the band's entire output over the course of its last three LPs. Those two could've easily made the cut for Narrow Stairs, and upon hearing them buttressed against "Talking Bird" it's surprising that they weren't deemed up to snuff, while the latter was.
The Open Door feels enough like a legitimate Death Cab release to merit serious listening, rather than be cast off as a blatant cash grab. The material isn't always up to par the way earlier between-the-records EPs were, but it still beats the hell out of Plans. (www.deathcabforcutie.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 7/10