Death Cab for Cutie-Transatlanticism Demos
I first began listening to Death Cab for Cutie when I first began watching the O.C. and saw the quintessential Trasnsatlanctism poster that adorned Seth Cohen’s wall. For me, and countless others, Transatlanticism, became the soundtrack to the early teenage years, the years that mark all the firsts-the first kisses, the first breakups, the first existential crisis after being denied from college, the first moment of clarity after getting accepted into college and most importantly, the first time we started to see ourselves as real people.
The same can be said about Death Cab, Transatlanticism marked the first time that listeners saw the band as the real deal, as the album marked the band’s transition from just another indie band from Pacific Northwest to the face of indie music across the country.
On Oct. 29, Death Cab for Cutie released the demos of Transatlanticism, a decade after the original album was released. Packaged the same as the original albums, the demos give listeners a chance to hear how their favorite songs transitioned from the pre-production stage to the final, flawless product.
The demos give listeners a different perspective on Death Cab’s music. For example, the originally upbeat “Sound of Settling,” is accompanied by an acoustic guitar on the demos version, giving it a different, more emotional dimension that is not as clear in post-production version.
Similarly, “Title and Registration,” which is one of the most beautifully produced tracks on the original release, is stripped down in the demos, revealing the melancholic theme of the song. Gibbard’s mellow voice shines in this version as he recounts a breakup, “cause it’s a shame the way that love can slowly fade/and when it’s gone it’s like it wasn’t there at all.”
Other tracks of the album sound similar to their post-production version. Both “Tiny Vessels” and “Passenger Seat” maintain the same basic sound that fans have been listening to for the past decade.
The original release of “Transatlanticism” is a piano-driven ballad combining the love, nostalgia and yearning that Gibbard’s voice is so great at conveying. However, on the demo version, the song-nearly two minutes shorter-is a slow motion, uneventful track that is almost forgotten in the middle of the album. Arguably the band’s most famous lyric, “I need you so much closer,” is flat and the repetition that oozes with emotion on the studio version feels almost other-worldly and far away as a demo. Surely, the pre-production version would not live forever on the margins of countless notebooks like the post-production version of the song has achieved.
Ten years ago we had Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Steve Jobs and Transatlanticism. Today, we don’t have Hope, Cash or Jobs, but we do have two versions of Transatlanticism, and no one can complain about that.