No one can romanticize the past quite like an indie rocker: Ask Benjamin Gibbard, lead moper for the coyly named Northwestern mellow-pop quartet Death Cab for Cutie. The five tracks on "Forbidden Love," its Versus-esque new EP, take a long, mournful look back at those schooltime salad days full of letter jackets and morose sexual frustration. A love/hate sort of feeling predictably emerges as Gibbard croons on "Technicolor Girl": "And as they all grow older, the truth will be understood/'cause we never turn out the way we thought we would." Never mind that these guys have only two full-length CDs (including last year's well-received We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes
) to their names -- it's never too early to mourn the loss of your youth and innocence, even if you still have it. Death Cab pulls it off with gloomy pop tunes that recall other gloomy pop tunes: "Technicolor Girls," for example, is a dead ringer for "Fake Plastic Trees." But bouncier tunes such as "Photobooth" create their own identity, while "Company Calls Epilogue" (from We Have the Facts
) takes a possibly maudlin concept (attending the wedding of the girl you're in love with) and ascends to angst-rock ballad heaven. If you think they're pleasantly moody now, just wait until they actually have something to complain about.