ALBUM: Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys

Release Date: May 31st, 2011
Label: Atlantic Records


It’s hard not to have a soft-spot for Death Cab For Cutie. They’ve been doing their thing for years now, have hardly altered their sound and manage to capture a melancholic, laid-back, yet full-blooded sound in everything they release. They are the perfect soundtrack to a day where you cannot be bothered to do anything except lounge around, treat yourself and lock yourself away from the outside world. Turn this album up to full volume and you will know what I am talking about.

It seems that the band know exactly what they want to do with a new release, especially with ‘Codes And Keys’, as every aspect of the album is finely-tuned, the balance between, and within every track is just right, and there are times when you will find it hard not to repeat a song – that is how strong some moments on this album are. Especially with Benjamin Gibbard‘s engaging, enigmatic style reaching top form here.

‘Some Boys’ is a dark, brooding track that hits full effect half-way through, with the haunting backing vocals and Gibbard‘s sweet vocals playing off each other very well. The bouncing bass, well-structured guitar riffs and keys form a neat combination that carry the song’s main selling point.

‘Doors Unlocked And Open’ is a song that is bound to get the crowds dancing at gigs. The drum beat is constant and with the cleverly picked guitar notes, it’s hard to not nod along. Gibbard‘s lyrics are clever, and although at times the music threatens to overpower his voice it’s not too much of a blockade. The song flows along purposefully, and it is the song on the album which the band seem to enjoy playing the most.

‘Monday Morning’ is just typical Death Cab; gentle keys and a roving bassline, accompanied by the rhythmical drums open up the song and allow Gibbard to take the most of his peculiar singing voice. It will go down well with long-term fans as, even though it is obviously new Death Cab, there are aspects which draw back to their early, vivid style.

‘Stay Young, Go Dancing’, the closer, is a sunny, Arcade Fire-esque track. This is because of the strings and simple chords, and the way in which Gibbard puts himself across is extraordinary. The music itself is humble, but he manages to make everything sound so much better with his docile, consuming voice.

This is an album which signifies Death Cab For Cutie‘s sheer ability to capture a sound which many have tried and failed to do. It showcases them as a band who, in today’s industry, show that talent, and not image, can work to your advantage.

Written by Rhys Milsom