Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keys

Death Cab for Cutie has gone from creation to platinum success in a mere 14 years; all the while never losing their main demographic, emotional indie kids. But that comes into jeopardy with their new album, Codes and Keys. While the album is definitely a Death Cab for Cutie record, lead singer Ben Gibbard has stated “I would be remiss if I tried to continue writing in a solely melancholic voice, given the fact that now I’m a married man.” Couple this statement with the band’s previous comments that “It’s not a guitar-based record” and DCFC fans have to wonder what exactly they will be in store for on Codes and Keys.

The truth is no matter how much Death Cab for Cutie reinvent themselves, they are still Death Cab for Cutie. Gibbard claims to have changed his content, which is apparent when you analyze his lyrics but when you listen to the music on the surface, his melodies and vocal tone always seem to project melancholic. It is just his voice and there is nothing he can do to change it.

Even on the album’s most poppy moments on the largely major scaled “Monday Morning”, Gibbard’s voice still has a hint of sadness to it. Despite Gibbard’s voice not changing, the make up of the song around it has changed. The track features many more keyboards than on previous records but it still incorporates guitars in the chorus to give the track that arena rock feel.

In the end, even the songs with no guitars still sound like Death Cab for Cutie songs just played on piano/keyboard instead. There is nothing so drastically changed about the songs’ tempos or pathos that make them seem out of place in the DCFC catalog. That makes for an ultimately successful album, even if expectations of some huge new growth must be tempered.

Rating: 8.5/10

Listen on Apple Music

Leave a Reply