[Indie Pop]

CD review: Death Cab for Cutie

Annie Zaleski

The Details

Death Cab for Cutie
Codes and Keys
Four stars

Death Cab for Cutie built its career on heartbreak and dissatisfaction. On recent albums, though, the Seattle band has allowed hints of contentment and happiness into the mix, and Codes and Keys is no exception. Although several songs’ lyrics find singer Ben Gibbard searching for home (“You Are a Tourist,” “Home Is a Fire”) or referencing unsettling imagery (’80s alt-rock highlight “Underneath the Sycamore,” which begins with a car crash allusion), Keys might just be the most optimistic Death Cab record yet. It’s also the most cohesive collection from the band since 2003’s Transatlanticism, a headphones record full of majestic nuance and vibrant arrangements. Guitars fall into the shadows, allowing searing bass (the New Order-esque “Doors Unlocked and Open”), saloon-like piano (the title track) and airy, Eno-y keyboards and atmosphere (“Unobstructed Views”) to come to the forefront. Keys is grown-up music that hasn’t lost its sense of adventure or wonder.


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