Friday, March 21, 2008


"It's like a book elegantly bound, but in an language you can't read... just yet."

The title of Death Cab For Cutie's new single for upcoming album Narrow Stairs sounds somewhat like "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" or "Someday You Will Be Loved", but ultimately it's a different song entirely. You can tell that from the fact that the first half of the seven minute epic is pure instrumentation, building in intensity until the vocals kick off.

The lyrics themselves are bit disturbing, because although the protagonist knows how to string together a nice phrase or two, the utter conviction he has that "I know that you'll find, love, I will possess your heart" creeps you out when you realise that 'love' is less his lover than the object of his obsession. His claim that all that he needs is for her to spend time with him for him to 'possess her heart' is especially creepy as he moves closer and closer.

"I won't let you let me down so easily," he claims when he is rejected, and he indeed refuses to back down, refuses to believe that he genuinely has no shot. It would be sad if it weren't painfully clear he was stalking and following her. The song ends with no resolution, just the threat of what his next move is.

While I like the song, it is far from Death Cab's best work, which both wrenches an emotional reaction from you and holds your interest. This song works to a degree on the first point, drawing you into the story of the stalker and your worries for his victim, but not to the degree of the fantastic songs mentioned above. On the second it really seems to trip up, in that more than half the song is the instrumental build-up, and many people are less than enamoured with that sort of thing, myself included. It may sound closed-minded, but I usually don't want to switch gears from 'instrumental' to 'vocals' in the middle of a song, and I don't usually feel like slogging through four minutes of instrumentation if I'm in the mood for lyrics. "Brothers in a Hotel Bed" had it right - four minutes, and the opening minute was instrumentation, but it didn't take the length of a whole song to get to the lyrical portion. The actual intrumentation is very good and is a great build to the lyrical part, but I'm not the type to enjoy it overly much for its own sake.

Death Cab recently stated that they just want to please themselves with the new album, and I would never argue with artistic integrity. However, I have to question not their decision to make this song, but to pick it as the lead single for the album, when those of lesser patience might tuen out long before they hit the lyrical section (which is the real draw for many, if not most, listeners).

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart (Sendspace link)

1 comment:

Chris said...

Death Cab For Cutie are continuing to push boundaries. Releasing I Will Possess Your Heart as the lead single is genius but the version I have heard is the cut down track without the instrumental build up. It's much better as a longer track but obvious not radio friendly.