2008's Narrow Stairs, Death Cab For Cutie's follow up their colossal breakthrough record, Plans, was the first record of theirs to debut at #1 on the Billboards and get some of the band's best reviews. While I really enjoy that album, it's not one of their better ones. After seeing them live last month and watching them perform their entire The Open Door EP, which had been released a few months prior, I quickly ran to the store to pick up this little beast.
I'm weird about EPs now. I never really buy them unless there is a lot of new material to be found and I could care less about remixes or the likes. Granted, if I really like the artist then I have to purchase everything they've done (case in point: Elliott Smith or Nine Inch Nails), but a majority of the time they are pretty lame; just snippets of greatness to bide you over until the next full-length release. However, The Open Door EP is definitely a great purchase.
For $3.99 at Best Buy, you get this sucker with five songs on it-with one of those songs being an early demo of a track from Narrow Stairs. Death Cab is a four piece Indie band from the Seattle area that has gotten huge these past four years or so. They have a really acoustic sound (and a gentle one at that) led by the murmurs of the lead vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Gibbard and while some of their stuff is really slow and dreamy, this EP is pretty rocking.
One of the best songs on the disc is Little Bribes, which is standard DCFC fare. While all of these tracks were recorded during the Narrow Stairs sessions, this one truly sounds as if it should have been on the final list. It's acoustic rock at its greatest and very fun. Another great song is I Was Once A Loyal Lover--it's a great rock song full of distortion and it definitely sounds much different from the rest of the CD.
Also included is A Diamond and a Tether, which has some mystical guitar work in it and is very upbeat. It's one of the catchiest songs on the EP and one that, again, should have belonged in the track list to their last record. My Mirror Speaks is classic Death Cab and sounds as if it belonged on their 2003 Transatlanticism (my personal favorite). It's very guitar driven with pulsing drums and handclaps and is very catchy as well.
The demo for Talking Bird from Narrow Stairs is included and I enjoy it much more than full band version. That being said, the original version has a lot of interesting effects and great instrumentation, but the demo is just Gibbard sitting and playing his guitar while humming the lyrics. It's much more intense and has the same amount of impact and sound as their Plans acoustic single, I Will Follow You into the Dark. It's a very sweet song and worth the price of the EP just to have it.
The Open Door EP is a little under twenty minutes, but for such a cheap price and with songs that are all very good, you can't go wrong with this small gem. Think of this as Narrow Stairs' little brother; a companion piece that sounds very similar to their last record, but also a fresh look at to what's next for this amazing band. The only thing that could've made this better was if there were more tracks.
© Jason Haskins, 2009
01. Little Bribes
02. A Diamon and a Tether
03. My Mirror Speaks
04. I Was Once A Loyal Lover
05. Talking Bird (Demo Version)
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