Yesterday, Death Cab for Cutie unveiled its new single, “You Are a Tourist”, a low vibe, smooth tone melody in line with the likes of The Cure and, more recently, Modest Mouse. It’s good. It shows promise for their upcoming seventh album, Codes and Keys, due out May 31st. But it’s been awhile since we’ve last seen the Bellingham, WA natives. While they added a tune to the Twilight soundtrack back in 2009, and frontman Ben Gibbard has hit the stage a few times, they’ve since been huddled up inside a studio, tending to new material – which will see release in just a matter of weeks. Naturally, around this time, fans get nostalgic. Plenty will no doubt flock to the band’s back catalog – most likely 2003’s Transatlanticism – but they’d be just as fine stepping into the band’s last entry: 2008’s quite exceptional Narrow Stairs.
One particular song that still stands out is the melancholy charmer, “Grapevine Fires”. A slow jingle, working off what percussionist’s call “The Purdie Shuffle”, the track sees Gibbard digressing on the many wild fires that plagued the West coast in 2007. When it came time to promote the song in 2009, the band commissioned production team Walter Robot, aka artist Bill Barminski and writer Christopher Louie, best known at the time for their work with Modest Mouse (“Missed the Boat”) and Gnarls Barkley (“Mystery Man”). However, following the release of “Grapevine Fires”, the creators would have a new golden child to show off.
Focusing on the song’s lyrical elements, the two shape up a work of art, utilizing paper shapes and computer effects to a stunning degree. Much like a Pixar film, the animation cuts to the core emotionally, crafting images that are beautiful, breathtaking, surreal, and, by far, startling. There’s a moment, and you’ll know when, that you just feel your face freeze in horror and shock. It’s a feeling that’s oddly juxtaposed against Gibbard’s warm harmonies, and it’s an image that’ll stick with you forever. And to think, it’s all just paper – which is pretty ironic given the context of the situation.
This video won Barminski and Louie an Audience Choice Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Now, go see why…