Having only run this blog for just three weeks today, I have a long list of music I’d love to write about. I’d firstly like to apologise, as this review is for an album that was released in March 2015. However, it is an album that has sat very well with me, and I believe it needs to be written about. Death Cab for Cutie are one of my all-time favourite bands. I was first introduced to this band when a friend of mine had spent some time in the USA on holiday, returning with a CDR full of bands he had discovered while there. One of these bands was Death Cab for Cutie, with tracks from their third album The Photo Album, which had just been released. After hearing this music, I was instantly hooked. I went out and bought the album the very next day, and a few weeks afterwards I also bought their first two albums. Two years later I was blessed with the release of the fourth album, which I purchased the week it was released. Furthermore, as if destiny was poking its head out to greet me, one of my other favourite bands, Something for Kate came back from a US tour, and announced a national tour with Death Cab for Cutie as the support. Seeing my two of my favourite bands playing together was a significant moment for me and my close friend who also loved both bands. As Death Cab had never toured in Australia prior to this, and not many people knew of them, my friend and I were able to be up the front without much effort, and we took in every single note from Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla’s guitars, every intricate drum fill and incredible syncopated rhythm from Jason McGerr. It was a magical evening. Over the last fifteen years, Death Cab for Cutie have been played endlessly in my car and on my headphones. I also saw them again a few years later when they played The Forum in Melbourne. This gig was very different to the Something for Kate show, as this time, it was sold out, packed to the brim; full of raging Death Cab for Cutie fans. The same close friend of mine was also there for a second sitting, but this time we stayed towards the back, as too many people were playing karaoke up the front, as Death Cab for Cutie are the kind of band that incites irrational screaming of every lyric by diehard fans; clearly more die hard than myself.
Their eighth studio album, Kintsugi is unfortunately also a farewell to their guitarist and in-house producer, Chris Walla. The album was produced for the first time by an outsider to the band, Rich Costey, who has previously produced the likes of Muse and Foster the People. The first four tracks of the album accurately demonstrate a classic Death Cab for Cutie sound. ‘No Room in Frame’, commences with soft and gentle floating sounds and a serene back beat to introduce Gibbard’s charming vocal lines. The snare is switched on and the song starts rolling along with McGerr’s astonishing ability to make the hi-hat an instrument all on its own, with his complex syncopation, which is an essential element of the trade mark sound of DCFC. When the song fully kicks in, it sits very comfortably as a typical DCFC song. Similarly, ‘Black Sun’ runs its course with an equally multifaceted and interested drum beat and pumping arpeggiated chords on the guitar. The guitar solo is a fuzzy and glorious mess of rhythmic and simple notes that fit well in this track. ‘The Ghosts of Beverly Drive’ is fast paced and edgy. In the first verse there is a distinctive syncopated guitar rhythm, while the second verse relies solely on Gibbard’s voice before the bass and drums come back in, leading to the second chorus. ‘Little Wanderer’ is a gentle and restrained pop song which fills the ears with a splendid mix of creamy silvertones.
‘You’ve haunted me all my life’ is a calm mid-point of the LP, that has a tender and woolly bassline, which Nick Harmer propels through the second half of the track. The laidback sentiment continues with ‘Hold No Guns’, which is simply an acoustic guitar and Gibbard’s bare and unprocessed vocals. ‘Everything’s a Ceiling’ opens with an 80s-esque synth and yet another example of McGerr’s uncanny ability to use a hi-hat well. The track picks up with a syncopated and muted guitar, leading towards an intriguing bridge and solo and ending with a fuller sounding final chorus. ‘Good help (is so hard to find)’ brings back their more ‘pop’ sound with a range of stimulating and varied guitar lines and a pumping and jiving bass line. ‘El Dorado’ again highlights McGerr’s ability to draw the listener in with his highly unique drum patterns. The chorus is rich in harmonies and gentle strums of the guitar. ‘Ingenue’ commences with an interesting sampled vocal sound, followed by a gentle bass fuzz and slightly distorted vocals. The track slowly builds up, with extra layers of guitars added to create a full and thick sound, which sounded amazing in my Bose headphones, and then the track gently pulls back towards the end. ‘Binary Sea’ concludes the LP with a velvety piano and gentle guitars and held back drums. This track explicitly took me back to the sound of their fourth album, Transatlanticism, and pleasantly brings the album to a close.
While I am absurdly biased in reviewing this LP, I have found it to be a solid record which has a good mix of sounds, and is a big step up from their last album, Codes and Keys, which was not as strong as their previous work. It is encouraging that the band has returned after an extended break to produce a high quality album that hopefully reignites the passion they have provoked in their countless fans from their earlier albums.
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Observations and opinions of popular culture, covering everything from music, film, television, people and other things.