Three years after the release of their eighth record ‘Kintsugi’, the final to feature guitarist Chris Walla, Washington’s Death Cab For Cutie have returned to the alternative rock/indie pop scene with ‘Thank You For Today’, an album that sees the band exploring new avenues, as any band/artist active in the music industry should aim to do.
The first taste that long-time fans received for this came in the form of ‘Gold Rush’, a track that lead vocalist and songwriter Ben Gibbard describes as an observation on “coming to terms with the passage of time, and losing the people and the moments in my life all over again as I walk down a street that is now so unfamiliar.”
Gibbard‘s reserved, almost spoken word vocal performance on this track really works well with the airy, harmonised backing vocals that can be heard during the chorus and the minimalistic approach taken by the guitars and other backing instrumentation to create a bittersweet, yet relaxing feel. All the while, the rock-steady beat provided by drummer Jason McGerr adds a sense of groove to track that’s certainly reminiscent of the band’s alternative rock roots.
Opener ‘I Dreamt We Spoke Again’ follows the same vibe of longing for the past, with the instrumentation taking the same stripped back approach with a touch of ambience added to the mix. However, it’s on songs like ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘Near/Far’ where a more energetic method is implemented. The driving guitar riffs and mellifluous piano runs give the former a very R.E.M. feel, whilst the steady, programmed drums and underlying synthesiser riffs in the latter show the band taking some inspiration from modern indie.
If given only one word to describe ‘Thank You For Today’, it’d be ‘bittersweet’. The reminiscent, longing feelings expressed in the lyrics are perfectly accompanied with bringing out the gloomy undertones, and are guaranteed to strike the right audience where it matters.