#36 – Passenger Seat

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Artist – Death Cab for Cutie
Album – Transatlanticism
Year – 2003
Genre – Soft Alternative

Coming into this review, I had little listening time with Death Cab for Cutie’s earlier body of work. However, when I first heard this track I immediately loved it. It’s a very beautiful, moody piano driven track that really captures the essence of a certain moment in time. It’s no secret that I love imagery in songs, and this particular song is perfect in the sense that you can truly imagine and feel what frontman Ben Gibbard is singing about. So, speaking of Gibbard…

If the phrase “honesty is the best policy” were to apply to a singer, Ben Gibbard would be that singer. His tone is the most crisp of any singer I’ve known, and his voice just oozes that genuine emotion that can only be found in a select few. He’s one of those singer’s that’s not extraordinary, but he’s perfect for the music that he writes. The lyrics are beautifully simple and full of description. It’s about experiencing all of the beautiful feelings whilst driving on a beautiful night with someone close. It’s a mixture of all the subtle emotions that hang in the air on nights like that. It’s all the things you want to tell that person, but you’re so taken by the beauty of the night and the experience of being with them. The way the song captures the feeling of driving home after a long day with someone is pure poetry. Gibbard sings like a shy man, but that makes the song all the more powerful.

The music is even simpler, with a droning piano backing and some soothing, yet odd piano chords and notes over the top. The melody itself is sentimental and somehow captures that slight chill in the air you feel when driving at night. It contrasts Gibbard’s warm vocals very well, and as the song closes out, he almost silently confides his feelings to the person driving. It’s a very subtle, yet poignant and powerful way to close this quietly brilliant track.

Passenger Seat is a great song for anyone looking to check out Death Cab for the first time. It’s a song that is resonant and one that makes you experience that thrill and emotion of driving at night with someone you care about. It’s full of sweetness and innocence, yet maturity and poise. It’s a great soft song to reflect upon and listen to for time to come.

What did you all think? Let me know below!

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#35 – I Am The Arsonist

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Artist – Silverstein
Album – A Shipwreck in the Sand
Year – 2009
Genre – Post Hardcore

Silverstein, a Canadian post hardcore outfit from Burlington Ontario, started out very similar to many other bands in the genre. Though they were loud, brash, and full of angst and heartache, they always seemed to stand out above their peers. As time passed, their albums became more focused and cohesive. 2009’s A Shipwreck in the Sand was Silverstein’s first foray into the world of the concept album, and with this development, they cemented themselves as a band who could stay true to their punk roots but still be able to create artful albums.

I Am the Arsonist is perhaps the heaviest offering off of a record that’s already filled with darkness and pain. In fact, it may be one of the heaviest songs that Silverstein has put out. The instrumentation is incredible, especially the guitar work. It’s fast and powerful, and gives the song a feeling of rage and anger. Which makes sense, considering the song is about a man who discovers his best friend has been sleeping with his wife. Frontman Shane Told totally immerses himself into the role of the main character. His screams are primal and hateful, and he holds nothing back on this one.

Told’s clean vocals, especially during the chorus, are incredible. The chorus itself is extremely melodic and builds up note by note to almost give a sense of insanity and happiness at burning down someone’s house. “They’ll see a fire through the dark night sky. I hope you’re home when I arrive. If there’s a pyre in the afterlife, I’ll be there again to light the match.” Yeah. It’s a song about revenge and anger, and the fast paced and frenetic drumming and guitar work continuously drive the song forward. The chord progression is extremely dark and gothic sounding, and you can literally see the story unfold in front of you.

I Am the Arsonist is a a standout track in the post hardcore world. It showcases the talent of a band who has proven that time and again they can break the chains that bog down so many other bands in the genre. If you love a great song that tells a story and that just absolutely rips you to shreds, this is that song. It hits hard and it does it with a smile and a whole lot of talent.

#34 – Marlboro Lights

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Artist – Natalia Kills
Album – Trouble
Year – 2013
Genre – Pop

Starting up again on new music Tuesday, we have a beautiful ballad from English Pop artist Natalia Kills! I’ve had a listen to her new album today and it’s quite good as a whole, but she really outdoes herself on this track. Let’s dive in.

Marlboro Lights is nothing flashy. It’s not over the top or sappy. What it is is honest. It’s a girl and her piano, just trying to flush her feelings out. It’s a rarity when we see real, honest songwriting from a pop artist in this day and age. The piano melody is beautiful and longing, as Kills croons in a very Lana Del Ray-esque style. She sings how just the simple thought of someone, even after they’ve trashed your heart, is enough to ease the ache. Well, at least for a while. Let’s face it, when we’re in the darkness that follows a breakup, sometimes we consider ending our lives. Yes, it’s a rash thought and it’s a terrible thing to think, but it’s there. Kills’ lines “and a lonely bridge or rooftop ledge could just fix everything” and “the passing trucks and loaded guns could never fix anything” touch on this. It’s unique in the sense that this kind of darkness is never really touched upon in pop songs. Props to Kills for going there.

The piano is gorgeous throughout. It has that twinkling and somber quality that Evanescence’s My Immortal had, but Kills’ voice and lyrics enhance the sound in a different way. Instead of being ethereal and soft, Kills truly comes across as tearful and almost angry. But not quite. She maintains the composure that makes a soft ballad like this work, without sacrificing any emotion or mood. When you get to the bridge…watch out. It’ll get you. It’s simply beautiful, and the finest part of the song for sure.

A great heartbreaking pop song is hard to find, but this one is a four star for sure. It’s not your average pop ballad. This is something more. If Kills puts out more music as good as the music on her last album, and especially songs like this, then she’ll be on her way in the world. If you’re looking for a song to belt out alone in your room when you’re feeling down, this is one hundred percent for you. It’s also for anyone who thinks the artful pop ballad has been lost to history. Look no further than Natalia Kills’ Marlboro Lights. Great voice, great lyrics, amazing song.What did you all think? Let me know below!