🎵 How Good Are They Really 🎵 Death Cab For Cutie/The Postal Service

DCFC are one of those bands I got massively into for a relatively short time and have never gone back to since. Loved the Postal Service album at the time but I don’t think it has aged well. Given both iterations a 3, but it would have been higher at one time.

I was reading Richard Hoggart’s classic The Uses of Literacy recently which has a great story in the forward about DCFC’s name. The book is (in part) a slightly snooty lament about the influence of trashy ‘pulp’ fiction. He originally named some examples of what he was talking about but his publisher was worried about being sued so told him to make up some fictional examples, one of which was ‘Death Cab for Cutie’. The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band then stole the tile for a song (thinking it was a real pulp story, I think) and the band later named themselves after the song. In the forward Hoggart’s son explains how they were, fifty years later, his own son’s favourite band and he was able to tell him that his grandfather had actually come up with their name.


Never heard Death Cab, Postal Service are an enormous 1 though.

The TV is a big fan of the postal service, I’ve heard bits and it’s fine. Never heard DCFC I actually thought they were some emo landfill tbh.

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Thought this was where it came from, it’s in Magical Mystery Tour isn’t it? Didn’t know the rest of the story though!

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Absolutely this.

What a pleasure it was seeing them at Primavera ‘13


2 and 5 respectively. Give Up is one of those records that instantly transports me to a specific time/place and I love it. Don’t really think I could ever review it critically tbh.

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2/5 for DCFC - I kinda liked a couple of things about 20 years ago I think (can’t remember any specifics)

Abstain on TPC as I haven’t knowingly heard them.

Strange, I was thinking the other day as to whether DCFC would be in one of these

I find it hard to be objective as they were my first girlfriend’s, who was the first girl I loved, favourite band. She had lyrics tattooed on her wrist and I went with her to go see them (they were really dull).

I always found the music quite on the nose and inauthentic. A song like I Will Follow You Into The Dark makes me cringe but I wonder if I listened now how I’d feel. Remember liking the songs Transantlanticism and Kath at the time

Don’t really know Death Cab although must have heard them at some point or other.

I think the Postal Service album is a tad overrated, but it’s alright and I quite like hearing the occasional song on 6 music. Abstain and a 3 I reckon.

Oh they are so getting a 5

Title and Registration is still one of my favourite sets of lyrics ever, The New Year is about as perfect an album opener as you can imagine, and I was obsessed with Transatlantiscism as a whole as a teenager. Could still easily number among my favourite albums now tbh

Yes they can be too twee or clever-clever, but there’s such heart and sincerity behind what they do. Feels like everything is in service of that, even if I can see how potentially off putting it can be to non fans

Plans is great for a major label debut, punched up and smothered over some of their sounds without making them anonymous or generic. Feels to me like one of the last times that it really “mattered” when a small band went big, and people actually thought about whether that meant selling out etc. Nope, just meant they wrote Summer Skin which is peerlessly beautiful - I had a routine where I’d listen to The New Year every … new year, Summer Skin in the hottest part of every summer holiday, and So Long to the Holidays by Modest Mouse on the last day before going back to school. Those songs are just soaked in nostalgia

Think I never checked out the last two albums, but even up to Keys and Codes (?) there was some really good stuff in there


Thr last one was disappointing, but Kintsugi is definitely worth a listen.


Love a bit of Benny Gibs.

Big band for me when I was at uni having feelings.

Saw them 2 years ago and they actually still sounded pretty great.

Always thought postal service was a bit overrated (especially by people desperate to prove that they liked ‘electronic music’!), but a couple of undeniable bangers.
Got to be a 5.


Also The Postal Service album is good and I’m going to enjoy sticking it on today, but very surprised that there’s so many people here who really rate it while not being interested in Death Cab at all. It’s a fine album but wouldn’t be in their top 3 imho, but they also cover such similar emotional and melodic ground that it genuinely surprises me someone could love one but not the other …

Also from Trans onwards, they have some truly great drums parts in their songs, and especially on Narrow Stairs. Plus they’ve always had a chunky bass tone, which worked well to balance all the other sweetness in their tracks



Ben Gibbard
Lead Singer at Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service

^^^ Ben Gibbard’s LinkedIn Page^^^


Just remembered that the intro build up in ‘I will possess your heart’ is great. Thought that was very cool when I first heard it after I thought they ‘sold out’ with plans (what a dickhead).


Narrow Stairs has a few garbage tracks on it, but the good stuff is great. Bixby Canyon Rope Bridge, No Sunlight, Grapevine Fires, Your New Twin Sized Bed etc


Always liked this one:

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D’oh! Didn’t spot that, my bad!

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Death Cab, easiest 5 in this whole shebang. DCFC are probably my most-listened-to band. I don’t really have a ‘favourite band’ but if you’re talking about bands whose discographies you would keep over everyone else’s, it’s between them and Coheed for me but you can’t really put on Coheed on a Sunday afternoon when you’re winding down from a hangover.

For me, DCFC don’t start until Jason McGerr joins the band. Between the less refined musicianship and Ben’s voice, I just never connected with anything before Transatlanticism but I love everything from and including that (yes, including Codes & Keys and that underwhelming last one with the stupid squid song).

Harmer and McGerr have to be the most underrated rhythm section in rock; what they do is pivotal to the band’s sound (to the point that nothing pre-Transatlanticism ‘sounds like DCFC’ to my ears) but it’s often simple to the point of deceptive complexity. Every beat, every note is in service to the song. Absolute perfection.

Plans is my most-listened to album but Narrow Stairs is the ‘best’ imo; it’s also the first album that came out after I got into them on the Plans cycle, so it has that special status of being the first album I was able to get excited about and look forward to.

Real concerns they’ll turn into a pale imitation of former glories with Chris Walla gone, especially when you compare that last Foxing record to the last Death Cab one. But we’ll always have that run from Transatlanticism to Kintsugi which is a run of five near-flawless albums, when most bands don’t manage five albums that good in their entire career.

The Postal Service are a tough one. Give Up was an easy 5/5 album, but it has arguably not aged that well and the non-album tracks that surface from time to time hint at the fact that its follow up would probably have been a letdown.

Plus (and this isn’t entirely their fault), the gig at Brixton in 2013 was one of the most anticlimactic things I’ve experienced. The main problem was the crowd, followed by the venue, but ultimately it proved that they’re not really a ‘band’ and that’s fine, but Give Up is probably best seen as a 2003 curio, perfectly executed but very much of its time and not to be repeated. Also: fucking Owl City man. Owl City.