After all, this is the guy who’s consistently poured his heart out, record after record, as the frontman of Death Cab For Cutie. It’s always been something he’s done in straightforward terms, too; whether it was their early records, where he liked to shroud things in metaphor, or their more recent efforts, on which he’s openly cited Randy Newman as an influence, heartbreak’s been the name of the game nine times out of ten.
Teenage Fanclub’s multiple songwriters were always a bit coyer, which is probably why they wouldn’t quite chime with the public’s vision of Gibbard’s formative years, where you’d imagine him knee-deep in the undisguised emotion of The Cure or R.E.M. Bandwagonesque, though, is apparently his favourite record by his favourite band, which isn’t to say that the thinks it’s their best; it’s just that it’s what he heard of theirs first, and what made the biggest impression on him.
It seems worth noting that Gibbard has talked often of how Glasgow is the city, in musical terms, that most resonates with him outside of his native Seattle; on this top-to-bottom run-through of Bandwagonesque, it feels like the first time that we’re actually seeing proof of that. He’s made the album his own, lending a touch more groove to “I Don’t Know”, turning the screeching feedback of “Satan” into something altogether more shimmering, and setting several shades of his own vocal melodies against each other on “Alcoholiday”.
Beyond that, though, Death Cab aficionados can pick out precisely where he’s taken influence from Teenage Fanclub over the years. When he sands the rough edges off of “Metal Baby”, he brings the melodies to the fore; the same’s true of his version of “Guiding Star”, which might as well be an origin story for the sparser points in his own back catalogue. What’s most striking about Bandwagonesque, though, is how tenderly Gibbard’s treated it; this is undoubtedly the sound of somebody very much in love with the source material.