If I were to make a “best of” list for food the way us music-bloggers make “best of” music lists on every possible occasion (i.e., best of the decade, best of the year, best of the year up-to-now, best-records-to-listen-to-while-contemplating-the-many-plot-holes-in-the-nonetheless-visually-stunning-film-Avatar, etc), macaroni and cheese would rank within my top 5 “all time favorite foods” list. And the truffled three cheese mac and cheese Kasey threw together for a recent dinner party is a perfect example of why I love this stuff: it is filling, warming, melting and, most importantly, cheesy. And sure, being cheesy is no guarantee of deliciousness – but it is a good start. The same is true in music: cheesy isn’t necessarily a good thing, but done right it can feel and sound pretty good. And arguably there is no living contemporary songwriter who understands how to craft music that is cheesy, but that still retains depth and warmth, better than Postal Service/Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.
Death Cab For Cutie’s 2005 release, Plans, is a the perfect example of an album that is cheesy without being mushy. Indeed, Plans is filled to capacity with the type of lyrics that are designed to make you think: “Awwww… how sweet.” Take for example the album’s first single, “Soul Meets Body.” The song’s title alone is suggestively sweet, but the lyrics are even more sentimental: “So, brown eyes, I’ll hold you near / because you’re the only song I want to hear / a melody softly soaring through my atmosphere.” Indeed, nearly every track on the album could soundtrack the love and heartbreak of two star-crossed lovers, and especially the album’s biggest single: “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” But these tracks don’t feel overly gooey. Indeed, thanks in part to the warmth of the album’s instrumentation and production (courtesy of Death Cab’s guitarist/producer Chris Walla) the music feels natural, but not without thoughtful flourish. So if you are looking for a record to make your heart hurt in a good way: Plans may be the record you are looking for. The vinyl edition is out-of-print, but if you really want a copy you can pay a small premium for one over at Amazon.