Sound — 9
When Death Cab For Cutie came out with "Transatlanticism", they had officially become a big name in the indie world of music. After signing with Atlantic, they released "Plans", a more straightforward effort that left some fans disappointed (including me). However, 3 years later, Death Cab have returned with their follow-up "Narrow Stairs", a departure from the traditional love songs of Ben Gibbard. While not a HUGE change in style, it is noticeably different than it's predecessors and it feels more focused. The band seems to have found a sound that really suits them. There is a darker tone as opposed to "Plans" and overall, the songs seem more thought out.
Lyrics — 9
As I said before, gone are most of the traditional love songs and in are more harrowing and darker themed songs. The lyrics overall have been improved since their last release and Gibbard's new style is a welcome addition to their sound. It might take a few listens to really get into the characters he conjures up. Also, Gibbard's vocals, while very similar to the last 2 albums, have improved yet again. This time, he utilizes a higher pitch more often in songs like "You Can Do Better Than Me". Overall, Death Cab have improved since Plans lyrically and have pretty much tied Transatlanticism in this spot.
Overall Impression — 9
If you loved their last two albums or even their older albums like "The Photo Album", you'll enjoy this album. It'll take a few listens to truly appreciate this album but it's definitively worth the time spent. Songs like "Cath... ", the new single "I Will Possess Your Heart", "Your New Twin Sized Bed" and "Long Division" will stay with you long after you've listened to the album. If this album were stolen, I'd definitely go out and buy another copy. Overall, a much better album than Plans and by far the band's most experimental effort yet, which isn't a bad thing at all.