Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Death Cab for Cutie

  • The Photo Album [Barsuk, 2001] ***
  • The Stability E.P. [Barsuk EP, 2002] Dud
  • Transatlanticism [Barsuk, 2003] Choice Cuts
  • Plans [Atlantic, 2005] Choice Cuts
  • Narrow Stairs [Atlantic, 2008] **
  • The Open Door [Atlantic EP, 2009] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Photo Album [Barsuk, 2001]
signs of postundergraduate life ("Steadier Footing," "Coney Island") ***

The Stability E.P. [Barsuk EP, 2002] Dud

Transatlanticism [Barsuk, 2003]
"We Looked Like Giants" Choice Cuts

Plans [Atlantic, 2005]
"I Will Follow You Into the Dark" Choice Cuts

Narrow Stairs [Atlantic, 2008]
Unfailingly melodic, surprisingly dynamic, somewhat overextended love problems, and if he's so smart why doesn't he shelve music and solve them? ("You Can Do Better Than Me," "Grapevine Fires"). **

The Open Door [Atlantic EP, 2009]
Outtake EPs aren't normally where flawed talents come to fruition, and descriptions of one's inability to love aren't normally ruddier than the cherry and riper than the merry month of June. But though Ben Gibbard has self-lacerated before, here he actually seems to have something to get off his chest. Rock-or-die drums power the slow song as well as three atypically fast ones, and, after a Vegas-hookup prelude, Gibbard gets down to cases so unsparingly you'd think he was mad at himself. There's even a mirror metaphor you can look in the eye. A-