Death Cab For Cutie – “Company Calls” & “Company Calls Epilogue” – Song Discussions

We Have The Facts And We’re Voting Yes, the second studio album recorded by indie rock band Death Cab For Cutie was released on March 21, 2000. The record is centered around the theme of a broken relationship, was produced by then-guitarist Chris Walla, and contains no singles, as unusual as that is. No promotional singles either. None. At first, I was slightly offended by the fact that the band chose to deliver the album without appointing any specific songs to promote beforehand. But in the same token, this allows the listener to decide which songs they enjoy without bias. There’s no pressure to weigh non singles from singles and it’s refreshing to listen to a record just as it is, no strings attached. Ironically, however, the two songs that especially stuck with me are the ones that are attached, “Company Calls” and “Company Calls Epilogue”.

Interestingly enough, these songs don’t actually blend together. They both have very different sounds but describe the same scene and have influences of each other in their own individual lyrics. The picture they portray is a wedding and the narrator is distraught about the girl marrying someone else instead of him. It’s set up in kind of an obscure way, where he can’t come to terms with this wedding actually happening. But throughout listening to both songs, you can get a couple of different views on how he feels. “Company Calls” is more upbeat, clearer sounding and overall a more striking song at first. The pre chorus makes the narrator seem confident with him saying “I’ll take the best of your bad moods / And dress them up to make a better you” which sets us up for the energetic and infectious chorus which states “Set your sights / Destroy this party line / Cause it’s so tired”. He has thoughts about stopping the wedding and goes back and forth on that topic but can’t seem to make a final decision. There are also instances where it seems he just wants to let the whole thing go when he says “Let’s cut our losses at both ends” and “Leave the dishes stacked in the sink”. This sounds like a metaphor for leaving your problems as they are without attempting to resolve them in any way. And although there are instances where he’s obviously nervous with the bridge saying “I’d keep my distance cause the complications cloud it all” and “Your wedding figurines, I’d melt so I could drink them in”, those insecurities become easily forgotten about when right after the bridge we have a cute little guitar riff that makes the listener forget all those doubts. The song ends with a lively buildup of instruments during the final chorus, leaving the listener in a limbo of what is going to happen next. The narrator is having obvious complications at this wedding but it seems he’s holding himself together at first. Then, we get to “Company Calls Epilogue” and everything changes.

“Company Calls Epilogue” in comparison features fuzzy vocals and is much less aggressive than the previous track. “Company Calls” sets up the physical imagery of the entire situation while “Company Calls Epilogue” feels more like a dream and creates a picture of what’s actually going on in the narrator’s mind. He seems to be drunk and is imagining ending the wedding and telling the bride how he feels. “Crashing through the parlor doors, what was your first reaction? / Screaming, drunk, disorderly, I’ll tell you mine.” This makes us think he’s finally found the courage to stop the wedding but the next few lines tell us otherwise. “You were the one, but I can’t spit it out when the date’s been set. / The white routine to be ingested inaccurately.” There’s the obvious guilt about not telling her how he felt before the wedding and now that everything has been set up, what’s the point of stopping it? He reiterates a line from the bridge of “Company Calls” in the intro of “Epilogue” where he restates “Synapse to synapse, the possibility’s thin” and even tells us that he indeed did take the figurines from the wedding cake. Another noteworthy line is where he describes the “little girls wearing pigtails were running from little boys wearing bowties” which is a clear indication of how he feels like he’s been chasing the bride all this time and even chasing the idea of marriage with her. However, after it all, the song fades out with him softly repeating how “the white routine” is being “ingested inaccurately” and we’re left with believing that he hasn’t done anything at all to help the situation.

The way these two songs fit together is not traditional but that’s what makes this combination so ideal. Crashing a wedding isn’t traditional either, so the theme is pretty common throughout. Like I said before, they don’t seem to mesh together although it seems like they’re supposed to. But that’s exactly what creates this sense of separation of dreams and reality and it’s a clear distinction of what the narrator wants to do versus what he actually does. The way “Company Calls” creates this image of confidence and decisiveness only for it to be torn apart in “Company Calls Epilogue” is disappointing but also real. We have moments like this in our lives on an almost daily basis. Most things are easier said than done and we’ll always have an image in our mind of how we want reality to look. But reality is hard and these two songs demonstrate that in the most discouraging but authentic way.


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