Thursday, January 12, 2006

Plans = Transatlanticism II

After reading here on Stereogum that Ben Gibbard has a degree in environmental chemistry (not so dissimilar to my own chem degree, researching the exact mechanism of Sydney Chapman's kinetic model for ozone metabolism), I stumbled upon a 2003 web feature, written a couple months before Transatlanticism's release.  I especially liked this quote:
Gibbard’s heard from people that [Transatlanticism] doesn’t rock like the old stuff, and that’s okay with him. “I don’t want it to rock like the old records,” he says. “I want to be this new thing. I want us to concentrate on texture and arrangements and not bang through things like we’ve done in the past.”
Telling, since this is the same charge I leveled at Plans, the follow-up to Transatlanticism.  I can kinda understand the point, though I disagree.  I can see how the tempo slowed down and the energy tempered itself between The Photo Album (their best) and Transatlanticism.  But Transatlanticism does have a good deal of bite... one can't listen to "The New Year," "Expo '86" or the title track without acknowledging that.  And you can't sit through a 13-minute snorefest like "Stability" and then assert that Transatlanticism doesn't rock as hard as its predecessor.  I mean, look how much deeper the chasm is now... the sharpest edge on Plans is the side of the CD.  (Zing!)  Anyway, I thought it was neat how they had no idea what kind of rocking-ness dropoff they were in for.

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