30
Jan 04

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE — ‘The New Year’

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You’ll have to forgive me for being in a rigidly literal frame of mind, but when I hear cab dispatcher Ben Gibbard offer this couplet to the kids of America:

‘So this is the new year / And I don’t feel any different’

‘ I want nothing more than to take him out back and plant a few Skecher insignias betwixt his pert little fanny cheeks. (See for yourself.) Yeah, New Year’s Eve can suck, but not because of the lack of life-altering epiphanies available at the bottom of a glass of champail. (Like, duh.) (Really.) Possible solutions:

1) Instead of sitting outside tossing fireworks in your shoddy dress-up duds, start dipping into the hard liquor. FYI – boxes of wine do not count as ‘hard’.
2) Try chatting up some strangers — remember, someone you don’t know is possibly (hopefully) someone that doesn’t know you, either; strike that iron, Sparky!
3) If you are actually with someone, and if that someone’s special, find an empty bedroom or bathroom (preferably one with a lock) (and windows with convenient sightlines) and do what comes naturally.

Do NOT, under any circumstances, go wandering around in the snow shoeless and jacketless, wearing a pair of your dad’s old athletic socks and some pleated pocket-happy Bugle Boy slacks, cursing to yourself in regards to your sorry self and sorry state as midnight rolls around just so you can be some rock-hard tough guy that doesn’t need stupid shit like friends and love and an old fashioned good time. Sitting in the snow in such a state is a bad idea, too. Please also note — having a beer-fueled mope on someone’s fiberglass truck cover is quite gauche. Not that I have any first-hand knowledge about this sort of thing. Cough.

Had I heard ‘The New Year’ around this time of my life (age 19) (he hopes), I imagine the song’s crashing guitars and ebbing drums would be an appropriate soundtrack to such a scene. I might have also empathized with the lyrics, most likely because I was young, stupid, and drunk on Bud Light. Now, some fifty years later, the intellectual rebellion my younger self would have ascribed to this song comes off as mealy-mouthed bombastic posturing. Mr. Gibbard must know his shit if, later on the Transatlanticism disc, he sings about ‘the sound of settling’ — if anything epitomizes the middling half-hearted shrug of that sound, it’s this album’s opening number.

Perhaps I’m guilty of transferencism, channeling my frustration with a certain strand of popular music that involves the guitars and the whinging and the bombast into this innocent bystander. Or maybe it was Death Cab’s manifest destiny to glom onto their hoariest traits, and accentuate them to the point of parody. Or maybe I should stop all this doublethinking and just say what I now realize I should’ve said at the start:

Boo fucking hoo.

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