Listening Booth: Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart”

Written by Listening Booth, Music

There’s a lot that stands out about “I Will Possess Your Heart,” the first single from Death Cab for Cutie’s new album, Narrow Stairs, out May 13 on Atlantic Records.

Death Cab for Cutie,
“I Will Possess Your Heart” (download)

Firstly, frontman Ben Gibbard doesn’t start singing until about halfway through the track, which is over eight minutes long. That’s right — over eight minutes. It eclipses “Transatlanticism” to take the spot of second-longest Death Cab for Cutie song, behind the 12-minute “Stability.” Secondly, “I Will Possess Your Heart” is the most experimental the band has ever been, discounting their cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Dream Scream”; there’s nothing overtly radio friendly or pop about it. Instead, it’s a rambling opus, filled with a bass solo, alternating piano and guitar, layered, delayed vocals, and short, repeated themes, in which Gibbard — oft the butt of many a wimp, girly, or emo joke — is actually assertive. Sure, singing about how a girl will love you if she spends more time with you isn’t a forceful topic, per se, but the way he sings about it is: “I won’t let you let me down so easily … I will possess your heart.” He’s fighting and determined; for Gibbard, it’s an unusually aggressive and confident approach. He’s also singing in a deeper voice.

“I Will Possess Your Heart” is the first peek at Narrow Stairs, and it reinforces all the rumors of this being Death Cab for Cutie’s weirdest — and quite possibly best — album yet. The song is easily one of the most stark, haunting, and progressive pieces the band has written, and as a result, it’s one of their strongest. Longtime fans may feel like this has been coming for quite a while, and at the very least it’ll destroy some of the stereotypes the band has been subjected to since its turn in the spotlight.