“Soul Meets Body”
Death Cab for Cutie: Plans
Between the Postal Service and the previous four Death Cab for Cutie albums, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard has established a Teflon rep for fey, airy indie-pop among his fans. And he’s gonna need it, if the lead single from Death Cab’s new album Plans, due Aug. 30, is any indication. A treacle of trebly guitar gossamer introduces the song, unfortunately recalling nothing less than the jingle jangle neo-psychedelia of the Church’s “Under the Milky Way”—guitar lines bleeding into mandolin bleeding into a snappy beat, all whipping up a great big, breathy sigh.
It’s a measure of just how polished Gibbard’s pop sensibility has become: “Soul Meets Body” sounds like any number of gently flowing, minor key-leaning pop-rock bands from the past 20 years—could be Echo and the Bunnymen, could be the Killers—so soulless it is, from its textbook midtempo hook to the falsetto singing of aching lyrics: “I can’t believe it’s true/ That there are holes left in both of our shoes/ If the silence takes you, then I hope it takes me, too.”
Granted, Gibbard and Death Cab slowly built its foundation on all of the above: wordy romanticism, unfussy soft rock, and an unabashed ken for vulnerability. The upside to such was its singularity—like it or not, Death Cab was unmistakably Death Cab, pop music that wasn’t that popular. With “Soul Meets Body,” Death Cab sounds denatured, all surface and no personality.