When the pandemic emerged on the West Coast and Seattle began their stay-at-home order, Death Cab For Cutie’s vocalist Ben Gibbard decided to offer solace through music. The singer began hosting nightly livestreams from his living room and sharing music from his decades-spanning catalog. While his livestreams are now far less frequent, Gibbard recently performed an acoustic version of an as-of-then unreleased single. Now, Gibbard returns with the official release of his hopeful track “Proxima B.”
“Proxima B” boasts a driving rhythm guitar accompanied with gently crashing snares. Gibbard’s soothing vocals narrate his longing to leave this world behind in hopes of finding life on a more promising planet. “Oh this world is startin’ to bring me down / The oceans risin’ and we’re all gonna drown / But there’s a place where you and I can go / Where we can start this mess all over,” he sings.
Explaining the track’s inspiration in a statement, Gibbard said he heard news of scientists discovering an Earth-like planet and began to imagine what life would be like there:
“This one I wrote a while ago. I’m planning on putting it out as a single. I was going to have it out as a single for this solo tour I was doing, a more ramped-up guitar version. But, obviously, the show’s not happening so we’re going to push that to the fall. This is a song I wrote about a planet that was discovered deep, deep in the cosmos, way out there, called Proxima B. The three things you need to know about Proxima B to understand the song is: One, there was a planet called Proxima B that they think has water on it. It’s somewhat Earth-like. Secondly, it orbits the star called Centauri. And three, there’s been a lot of talk of ‘Ooh, maybe we can get there at some point.’ So I wrote this song in response to that.”
“Proxima B” is seeing a release as a 7-inch single and a cassette with an unconventional cover as its B-side: Gibbard recorded his own version of Minor Threat’s 1981 hit “Filler.” While the original track is a raucous and rage-filled anthem, Gibbard infused his indie-rock sensibilities and managed to transform the song into a soft piano ballad.
Listen to “Proxima B” and “Filler” above.
Death Cab For Cutie is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.