Death Cab For Cutie have possessed the hearts of their audience since their debut album, Something About Airplanes, appealing to mainstream and indie listeners alike. Their popularity and fan base has multiplied over the years, as their music has never failed to be honest and relatable, and their name has spread worldwide. Their work thus far has not taken a backwards step nor sold out to the mass audience or record labels, and Codes and Keys is no exception to this pattern. It is a breath of fresh air, amidst a highly innovative period in the industry, to spin a record with no façade; it is the same Death Cab we know and love. Every song is easily relatable because of the fact that this group finds their inspirations in real life, their muses in real people, their lyrics in real experience. Their honesty and passion will always keep their audience captivated, and their newest release is one to spin over and over again.
Typical of Death Cab, the lyrical depth of Codes and Keys is pretty incredible. This album is teeming with imagery and every song is an extended metaphor. "Home is a Fire" tells about the feeling of security home provides, with warmth and stability amongst shifting plates, shaking houses, and endless noise. This introduction sets the tone for the rest of the album, which explores the ideas of home, comfort, shelter, belonging, and loyalty and how they relate to relationships. Open and closed doors are also featured, describing ideal living as being "free, with doors unlocked and open." There is a more positive vibe emanating from this album, which parallels the personal life of lead vocalist, Ben Gibbard, who recently married Zooey Deschanel. Clearly the relationship is having a positive effect on his music, as he croons, "when she sings I hear a symphony [...] oh how I feel alive." The honesty displayed in the lyrics as actually mirroring his life and newfound happiness allows listeners to truly relate. It is real, and should be an example to new artists that honest music always reads. Good lyrics do not need to spawn from heartbreak or tragedy; the best songs simulate reality.
As far as musicality goes, it is hard to say whether the reminiscence of every past Death Cab album in Codes and Keys is a positive or negative element. On one hand, the group has not put forth an attempt at innovation or change, but on the other hand, the stronger of the two, they are sticking to what they do best and doing it damn well. A few new elements, however, make this album unique to the rest. The three-minute piano intro to "Unobstructed Views" is a beautiful, contemplative stretch of music, detracting from the usual guitar-centric Death Cab tune. They have also infused more analog synths and string sections, making this album a bit more seventies-electronic, but still very Death Cab. The mixture of uptempo and slower tracks flows beautifully throughout the record and creates a range of great music. Each note is typical of Death Cab For Cutie, and yet each track is still original and delightful.
Codes and Keys is an ode to the true spirit of Death Cab For Cutie, applauding their hard work over the years and giving their fans yet another album to cherish and enjoy. The record comes with the bonuses of smiles, butterflies, goosebumps, reflection, and is sure to please the minds and hearts of Death Cab critics and fans. The final drop of wisdom from Death Cab themselves in this album is their key to happiness: "stay young, go dancing." Enjoy.
2. Codes and Keys
3. Some Boys
4. Doors Unlocked and Open
5. You Are a Tourist
6. Unobstructed Views
7. Monday Morning
8. Portable Television
9. Underneath the Sycamore
10. St. Peter's Cathedral
11. Stay Young, Go Dancing
Death Cab for Cutie is an American indie rock band formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. The band consists of Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Walla (guitar), Nicholas Harmer (bass) and Jason McGerr (drums).... read more