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The Photo Album

by Death Cab for Cutie

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released October 9, 2001

Death Cab For Cutie
Benjamin Gibbard
Nicholas Harmer
Michael Schorr
Christopher Walla

Words - Ben Gibbard
Produced/recorded/mixed - Chris Walla
Mastering - Jeff Saltzman
Art Direction - Chris Walla
Photographs - Sarah Sternau
Layout - Sam Trout/Josh Rosenfeld
Printing - Girlie Press

Thank you friends and families, Allisyn Levy, Amy Tavern, Elizabeth Duffell, Sarah Sternau, Josh Rosenfeld, Christopher Possanza, Sean, Nelson, Emily Alford, Barry Gordon, Barbara Mitchell, Jeff J Lin, Jay Chilcote, Joe Chilcote, Robbie Skrocki, Barton Sharp, Chuck Robertson, Tom Osborn, Mike Stuto, Dave Brown, Kyle Rogers, John Vanderslice, Jon Auer, James Mendenhall, Trey Many, Conrad Rippy, Brendan Bourke, Julie Underwood, Graham Macrae, Ron Brown, Kate Zawistowski, Jo Lenardi, Shigeru Kawahara, Keith Cahoon, Stefan Zagorski, Jaime Hernandez, Belen Gimenez, Chris Myhill, generous people with floor space for sleep
Dedicated to Rob Herbst



all rights reserved


Death Cab for Cutie Seattle, Washington

Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band, formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. The Grammy-nominated band consists of Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Nick Harmer (bass) and Jason McGerr (drums). Their eighth studio album Kintsugi was released on March 31, 2015. ... more


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Track Name: Steadier Footing
It’s gotten late and now I want to be alone.
All of our friends were here, they all have gone home
And here I sit on the front porch watching the drunks stumble forth into the night.

"You gave me a heart attack, I did not see you there.
I thought you had disappeared so early away from here."

This is the chance I never got to make a move,
but we just talk about the people we’ve met in the last five years
and will we remember them in ten more.
I let you bum a smoke, you quit this winter past.
I’ve tried twice before but like this, it just will not last.
Track Name: A Movie Script Ending
Whenever I come back, the air on railroad is making the same sounds. And the shop fronts on Holly are dirty words (asterisks in for the vowels).
We peered through the windows: new bottoms on barstools but the people remain the same, with prices inflating.

As if saved from the gallows, there’s a bellow of buzzers and the people stop working and they’re all so excited.

Passing through unconscious states,
When I awoke I was on the highway.

With your hands on my shoulders, a meaningless movement: a movie script ending,
And the patrons are leaving.

Now we all know the words were true in the sappiest songs (yes, yes). I’ll put them to bed, but they won’t sleep,
They’re just shuffling the sheets, they toss and turn,
(You can’t begin to get it back).

Passing through unconscious states,
When I awoke I was on
the onset of a later stage: the headlights are beacons on the highway.
Track Name: We Laugh Indoors
When we laugh indoors the blissful tones bounce off the walls and fall to the ground.
Peel the hardwood back to let them loose from decades trapped and listen so still.
This city is my home, construction noise all day long and gutter punks bumming change.
So I breed thicker skin and let my lustrous coat fill in and I’ll never admit that
I loved you, Guenivere.
I’ve always fallen fast with too much trust in the promising that
“no one’s ever been here, so you can quell those wet fears.”
I want purity, I must have it here right now,
but don’t you get me started now.
December’s chill comes late, our days get darker and we wait for this direness to pass.
There are piles on the floor of artifacts from dresser drawers that I’ll help you pack.
Track Name: Information Travels Faster
I intentionally wrote it out to be an illegible mess.
You wanted me to write you letters, but I’d rather lose your address
and forget that we’d ever met and what did or did not occur.
Sitting in the station, it’s all a blur
of dancehall hips, pretentious quips,
a boxer’s bob and weave.
Here’s the kicker of this whole shebang:
you’re in debt and completely fooled
that you can look into the mirror and objectively rank your wounds. Sewing circles are not solely based in trades of cloth:
There are spinsters all around here taking notes, reporting on us
As information travels faster in the modern age,
As our days are crawling by so slowly.
Track Name: Why You'd Want To Live Here
I’m in Los Angeles today: it smells like an airport runway, jet fuel stenches in the cabin and lights flickering at random.

I’m in Los Angeles today: garbage cans comprise the medians of freeways always creeping even when the population’s sleeping.

And I can’t see why you’d want to live here.

I’m in Los Angeles today: asked a gas station employee if he ever had trouble breathing and he said, "it varies from season to season, kid."

It’s where our best are on display: motion picture actors’ houses maps are never ever current, so save your film and fifteen dollars.

And I can’t see why you’d want to live here.
Billboards reach past the tallest buildings,
"We are not perfect but we sure try”
as UV rays “degradate” our youth with time.

The vessel keeps pumping us through this entropic place In the belly of the
beast that is californ-I-A, I drank from a faucet and I kept my receipts for
when they weigh me on the way out (here nothing is free).
The Greyhounds keep coming dumping locusts into the street until the gutters
overflow and Los Angeles thinks, "I might explode someday soon."

It’s a lovely summer’s day and I can almost see a skyline through a thickening
shroud of egos. (Is this the city of angels or demons?)
Here the names are what remain: stars encapsulate the gold lame and they need
constant cleaning for when the tourists begin salivating.

You can’t swim in a town this shallow — you will most assuredly drown tomorrow.
Track Name: Blacking Out The Friction
I don’t mind the weather,
I’ve got scarves and caps and sweaters,
I’ve got long johns under slacks for blustery days.

I think that it’s brainless to assume that making changes to your window’s view
will give a new perspective.
The hardest part is yet to come.
I don’t mind restrictions or if you’re blacking out the friction. It’s just an escape (it’s overrated, anyways).

The hardest part is yet to come,
When you will cross the country alone.
Track Name: I Was A Kaleidoscope
I put on my overcoat and walked into winter — my teeth chattered rhythms.
and they were grouped in twos and threes,
like a Morse code message was sent from me to me.
Cars on slippery slopes were stuck: people pushing through
their mittens as I was beginning to feel it soaking through my shoes,
getting colder with every step I took to your apartment, dear.
I was a kaleidoscope: the snow on my lenses distorting the image of what
was only one of you and I didn’t know which one to address as all your lips

This is when I forget to breathe and all the things I scripted, they sound unfounded.
And It’s the look that you’re giving me that tells me exactly what you are thinking:
"this ain’t working anymore."
They got their mothers worked into a panic
sledding down hills into oncoming traffic,
Parents layered clothes until the children couldn’t move and
then left them outside until their noses were blue, and I got left there, too.
Track Name: Styrofoam Plates
There’s a saltwater film on the jar of your ashes;
I threw them to sea, but a
gust blew them backwards and the sting in my eyes
that you then inflicted was par for the course just as when you were living.

It’s no stretch to say you were not quite a father but a donor of seeds to
a poor, single mother that would raise us alone,
We never saw the money that
went down your throat through the hole in your belly.

Thirteen years old in the suburbs of Denver,
Standing in line for Thanksgiving dinner at the Catholic church, The servers
wore crosses
to shield from the sufferance plaguing the others.
Styrofoam plates, cafeteria
tables, Charity reeks of cheap wine and pity
and I’m thinking of you, I do every year
when we count all our blessings
and I wonder what we’re doing here.

You’re a disgrace to the concept of family,
The priest won’t divulge that fact in his homily and I’ll stand up and scream
if the mourning remain quiet,
You can deck out a lie in a suit, but I won’t buy it.

I won’t join in the procession that’s speaking their peace,
Using five dollar words while praising his integrity.
Just ‘cause he’s gone, it doesn’t change the fact:
He was a bastard in life, thus a bastard in death.
Track Name: Coney Island
Sitting on a carousel ride without any music or lights, Everything was closed at Coney Island and I could not help from smiling.
I can hear the Atlantic echo back roller coaster screams from summers past.
Brooklyn will fill the beach eventually and everyone will go except me.
Track Name: Debate Exposes Doubt
The workadays were propping the bar quietly erasing the week and I was in a
corner booth thinking (pretending to read) about the impossibility of one to love
unconditionally and the words that we drive into the ground: their repetition
starts to thin their meaning.
Then everything got frighteningly still as they entered and intersected the
floor and I tried to choke my stare at the perfection that others would kill for,
but all of the parts are the same on every face (few variables change).
The differences pale when compared to the similarities they share.
Finally there is clarity and there is purpose after all, but every night ends
the same as I’m collapsing once more by your side.
Finally there is clarity: this tiny life is making sense,
And every drop numbs the both of us, but I alone am staggering.