Monday, January 21, 2008

Desert Island Discs: Transatlanticism

I’m taking another break from reading, because it’s been ages since I posted a desert island pick, and Morgan just did one, which reminded me.

I was thinking “what do I love that I haven’t covered?” and then I remembered Transatlanticism. I’m a big fan of Ben Gibbard’s songwriting and voice. Some people that I know say they like his songs better in cover versions, because they don’t find his voice appealing. I disagree. While I do have a deep love for the Iron and Wine version of “Such Great Heights,” I love the Postal Service too. In fact, I thought for a bit about choosing a Postal Service album instead, but I’m not always in the mood for all the beeps and boops. Transatlanticism, on the other hand, I love most of the time. I love the way the instrumentation makes the songs seem stark and alien. I love the way Gibbard’s lyrics take you by surprise sometimes, like “the glove compartment is inaccurately named/ and everybody knows it” or “do they collide?/ I ask and you smile./ With my feet on the dash/ The world doesn't matter.” I think his delivery has just the right amount of emotional weight.

Sometimes the words in combination with the stark arrangements do make the songs achingly sad. I remember when I first got into this album it was a Christmas break and I was reading a sad novel, Hey Nostradamus. Fortunately, I was emotionally stable at the time, because sometimes the repetition of “I need you so much closer” can make me feel really sad. But artistic sad, a kind of sad that is beautiful, so I don't mind. And the whole song “Passenger Seat” makes me feel so wistful, especially the last stanza, and the solo piano ending.

All this intense emotion can push Death Cab songs over the edge into overwrought. Sometimes “Tiny Vessels” strikes me that way. I’m willing to take the occasional overstep, though, if it produces one “Passenger Seat” every once in a while. That song is emotional perfection.

Past Reviews:

Neon Bible
Why Should the Fire Die
Achtung Baby


kristen said...

Great pick! Love, love, love this album!

Morgan said...

boo, you so stole this from what was surely going to be a desert island disc for me.

Blake said...

Another excellent choice! You're starting to get me thinking what I would pick for my own desert island discs...