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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Photo Album

Here's another example of looping back around to a record and finding it to be fantastic. As of late, I've finally understanding the greatness that is Death Cab for Cutie's The Photo Album.

The Photo Album is the band's third proper and was released in 2001. At that point, my fandom of the band was very bizarre. I couldn't get into their second album, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, but found their Forbidden Love EP incredible. I kept telling myself to stay with the band and try to find tracks as strong as the ones on the EP. This would end up taking a few years.

Back during my brief 2002 MP3 pillage, along with getting into XTC, the Pernice Brothers and the New Pornographers, I downloaded the rest of the Death Cab's catalog. I also had a promo copy of The Photo Album, but I found myself with so much material that I didn't know where to start. Somehow I started listening to their 2003 album, Transatlanticism, and found myself really enjoying it. It would be the beginning of really turning around with these guys.

My biggest complaint about Death Cab around then was how anti-climactic their songs seemed. Songs would build and build, but rarely came to a moment where everything really clicked in. It was as if they were afraid of rocking out too much. Hooks seemed few and very far inbetween. And it didn't help that a friendly rival band of my band worshipped the ground Death Cab walked on.

The band was comprised of some people that were friends of ours, so we got to know a little more about how the band was run. Essentially the two main songwriters told everybody what to do and one of the two was a major control freak. Seeing and hearing the direct influence of Death Cab's seemingly anti-climacticism made me want to dislike Death Cab even more. One late night trip back to Dallas saw me trying to give The Photo Album another chance, but alas, I felt bored and sleepy listening to it.

Years later, after hearing certain tracks like "Styrofoam Plates," "Why You'd Want to Live Here" and "We Laugh Indoors" live on the Drive Well, Sleep Carefully DVD, I liked what I heard. I approached with caution with listening to other tracks from the album. Songs like "Blacking Out the Friction" really rang true to me and slowly I came back around to the whole album.

Now, why I bring all this stuff up is for this point: not everybody clicks in with a record at the same time. The Photo Album may seem so 2001 for fans who claim to be on top of the game, but not for me. Had it not been for Transatlanticism and Plans, I doubt I would have gone back to band's back catalog. It's like I'm hearing the promise of a great band in development, but I didn't have that perspective back in 2001.

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