REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/14/2015
On this, their eighth album, Death Cab For Cutie return to a stronger sound that hasn’t been heard in a while. This is probably their best since 2005’s Plans. Unfortunately, it is also the last album to feature guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Walla. Fortunately, the band has also come out with some of their best and most memorable songs on this disc.
While the main single “Black Sun” and “Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)” are admirable tracks, they are nowhere near masterpieces; the listener has to look elsewhere to find the true nuggets of the album. “Little Wanderer” is without a doubt the best song on the record and has a chorus that sticks with you long after the record is finished – it’s just an awe-inspiring track. Likewise, “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life” is one of the band’s best ballads and is another song that will eventually rank among the band’s best tracks.
The band plays with a renewed sense of enthusiasm that was not heard on the last couple of records. The opening track, “No Room In Frame,” is spiced up with a nice guitar riff and is another great opener from a band known for amazing opening songs. Crisp, clean production courtesy of Rich Costey (Jane’s Addiction, Interpol) brings out the best qualities in Ben Gibbard’s vocals and songwriting. The musicianship is, of course, top-notch, sounding great and never cluttered.
“Hold No Guns” is one of those sparsely arranged Death Cab songs that never fail to excite the listener, à la “I Will Follow You Into The Dark.” The chorus and backing vocals of “Everything’s A Ceiling” help elevate the song and transform it into another winner. Gibbard’s songwriting is in top form on this record after dealing with the split from his now ex-wife, the ever-annoying Zooey Deschanel, and using it to craft some very fine songs.
While many indie rock bands are starting to experiment with different sounds like Arcade Fire, you know you can always rely on Death Cab For Cutie to sound exactly how you want them to sound; in this ever-changing world, that’s a very admirable thing.