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Death Cab For Cutie
by: Sun-J

Don't get the picture misconstrued or take the band's relationship to be "staind." Despite the fact that "it's been a while," since the band got down for some serious writing. Their latest musical offering, and October 7th release, Transatlanticism, is more than enough proof that Death Cab For Cutie are still collaborating. Nonetheless, During their brief offset, front man Ben Gibbard has been dabbing in the sup-pop indie circuit with his side project The Postal Service (see previous review). While Gibbard was multitasking between bands, Death Cab For Cutie keyboardist/guitarist/producer extraordinaire, Chris Walla, was upping the quality of his latter skill producing albums for bands Hot Hot Heat,and The Velvet. In addition to these tangent directions, the band also found tim to discover a new drummer in Jason McGerr. Furthermore, listener beware, Death Cab For Cute seemed to have manifest there sound into a more delicate, harmonious, tightly produced sound.

Transatlanticism kicks off with "The New Year," a British influence sounding song with an excited guitar riff and critical breakdown, complete with surreal lyricism, "I wish the world was flat like the old dogs, and I could travel just by folding the map, nomore airplanes or speed trains or freeways, there'd be no distance that could hold us back." "Title and Registration" is a fresh song that will leave you humming about glove compartments with the stumbling rhythm and subtle ring tones. "Expo '86" is built from the solid foundation provided by Walla's flailing guitar and upholds an infectious chorus which hints towards borderline anthem. "The Sound Of Settling," is a standout track and floods the listener from the beginning as Gibbard syncopately sings in perfect pace over an appropriate rhythm, "I've got a hunger, twist my stomach into knots..." Alternately this song depicts the morphed Death Cab For Cutie sound as Gibbard's vocal tones yield haunting resemblances of the late Morrissey during The Smiths era. "Tiny Vessels" is a heavily layered track with distortion and peaceful background stringing while the title cut is an eight minute passage of simplistic piano melodies bubbling with romantic innuendos while Gibbard's naked voice belts in the key of emo. The following track seems to have issues. In other words, if all the songs on this album were The Brady Bunch, this track would be Jan Brady. "Passenger Seat," seems to be the black sheep of the album as Gibbard and Walla come off as a bad Cold play impression. "Death of an Interior Decorator," is a waltzed fused tune with a passionate bridge. "We looked like Giants," is an anthem song as it opens up with strong rhythm before breaking off into layers of springing instrumentation that endlessly continue to build and consume Gibbard's fathomable wording, "God bless the daylight, the sugary smell of springtime, remembering when you were mine." The last track, "Lack of Color," opens acoustically before stretching into electric and synth, and then transitions back into acoustic and continues this trend.

The album as a whole differs from the previous Death Cab For Cutie sound in that the album seems to be more focused production wise and heading towards the direction that the wave of technology is pioneering. It's difficult to gauge the resonance of this album, but I will present this debatable clause. In previous years, Death Cab For Cutie have always previewed album tracks during live performances, though this time around they chose to secure the songs and keep them private until the release date. Perhaps they were trying to conceal something...



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