"What Sarah Said” (Plans, 2005) Generally speaking, there are two types of Death Cab for Cutie fans: Those who prefer 2003 concept album Transatlanticism and those who favor the band’s platinum-selling major label debut, Plans. The ninth song off the latter is a piano-heavy ballad that displays Ben Gibbard’s penchant for crafting clever lyrics. He sings, “Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines in a place where we only say goodbye.” Who knew a waiting room could be so interesting?
“No Room in Frame” (Kintsugi, 2015) The opening track from Death Cab’s eighth studio album puts the band’s reappearing Krautrock undertones to the forefront. It begins with a haunting instrumental snippet that transitions into woven, syncopated guitars that wave throughout. It’s the perfect balance between eclectic experimentation and traditional song structures.
“Scientist Studies” (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, 2000) Gibbard and his mates willfully risked the sophomore-slump tag by deciding against releasing a single for full-length No. 2. Perhaps that’s because it’s a concept album about a ruined relationship. Either way, it’s a shame; “Scientist Studies” features some of Gibbard and Chris Walla’s most intricate guitar work. The pummeling, lengthy climax is the cherry on top.
“This Charming Man” (You Can Play These Songs With Chords, 2002) Yes, they covered The Smiths, and yes, they did it well. The rambunctious cover of an already-upbeat classic is faithful, from the growling bass licks to Gibbard’s mimic of Morrissey’s high-pitched yelp before the third verse. But there’s one welcome change: Rather than emulate Johnny Marr’s lyrical leads during the verses, Gibbard opts for syncopated, distorted upbeats—exposing the angsty undertones of an old favorite.
Death Cab for Cutie With Pure Bathing Culture. March 17, 8 p.m., $25-$45. The Chelsea, 702-698-7000.