“It’s been eight years since Ben Gibbard recorded Death Cab For Cutie’s debut cassette, You Can Play These Songs With Chords, during which time the solo project has turned into a full-fledged band, recorded several slabs of beautiful, earnest indie rock, and steadily built up a devoted fan base (which includes The OC’s Seth Cohen). And now, with the release of Plans, the Bellingham, Washington-born, Seattle-based quartet has gone pro.
The move to Atlantic Records has meant a lot to some (mostly longtime fans who, like the band, are old enough to remember the hipster-sellout police of the ’90s), but almost nothing to a majority of the people who take Death Cab so personally. Predominantly recorded at Longview Farms in central Massachusetts and mixed at Butch Vig’s Smart Studio in Madison, Wisconsin, by guitarist-producer Chris Walla, Plans is the sound of a band settling comfortably into the more subdued space it occupied on 2003’s Transatlanticism. Some things about the recording differed from past experiences—it’s the first to feature the same full-time drummer on consecutive records, and there’s the major-label budget—but in the end, it sounds like a natural progression, so much so that it’s probably exactly what the band would have turned in to Barsuk if it hadn’t jumped ship. (The Seattle indie is still in charge of Plans’ vinyl edition, a two-LP set that includes the bonus track “Talking Like Turnstiles.”) The A.V. Club recently spoke separately with Gibbard and with Walla, who announced that he’s moving himself and his currently defunct studio The Hall Of Justice to Portland early next year.”