Death Cab for Cutie
Transatlanticism


5.0
classic

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
February 10th, 2009 | 433 replies | 50,348 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is fact, not fiction, for the first time in years...

I have the world's biggest man-crush on Ben Gibbard. There, I said it. And you know what? I'm happy to admit it. There's something about his words that I find so identifiable that they have become intricately entwined with many of the defining moments in my life. It all started when I was in the 9th grade. I purchased Transatlanticism on a whim. I had only heard Death Cab for Cutie mentioned in passing, but there was something about the album's cover of a starling entangled in twine that I found somewhat endearing, so I picked it up. I initially hated the album. It wasn't until a year later while on a road trip when I finally connected with Transatlanticism. Stuck in the back seat of a small sedan, every word that came out of Ben Gibbard's mouth perfectly portrayed my sentiments as a teenager, and the music blended seamlessly with the glow of the California coastline and the hurried lights of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Like any other Death Cab for Cutie album, the major draw to Transatlanticism is Ben Gibbard's lyrics. Gibbard weaves his stories of love with a captivating simplicity and a pensive honesty that makes every line beautiful in its own right. "The Sound of Settling" is an ode to the indecision and regrets of letting a potential relationship pass by without it even starting. As Gibbard sings "And I'll sit and wonder / Of every love that could've been / If I'd only thought of something charming to say," its damn near impossible for his words not find their way into your consciousness and attach themselves to a missed opportunity, or two. "The Passenger Seat" perfectly displays all of the best qualities in Ben Gibbard's lyrics. On it he relates a charming tale of being caught in the moment; "Do they collide?/ I ask and you smile/ With my feet on the dash/ The world doesn't matter." The song comes to an end with Gibbard's delicate voice capping off the narrative with what is arguably one of the most charming sets of lyrics in his career; "When you feel embarrassed then I'll be your pride/ When you need directions then I'll be the guide/ For all time."

If Gibbard's delectable lyricism wasn't enough, the instrumentation found on Transatlanticism perfectly compliments Gibbard's emotionally charged words. The album's opener, "The New Year", is built on a seductive web of layers. Chris Walla's production allows each guitar line, harmony, and volume swell enough space to ring distinctly as they all coalesce into a stunning climax. The use of layering is also prominent on the album's centerpiece and title track, "Transatlanticism". Beginning with only an off beat synthesized drum beat quietly placed under ringing piano chords, the instrumentation builds with the emotional level of the song. After the first verse, long guitar chords work their way into the piece soon followed by a simple 4/4 drum beat and a minimalistic, yet haunting guitar melody. The anticipation continues to build as Gibbard's voice gently and longingly repeats "I need you so much closer". The song finally floats in to a reverb soaked crescendo over a cathartic choral shout of "So, come on!". "Transatlanticism" is a testament to superb songwriting. No one part of the song stands out on its own, but together they meld into the pinnacle of beauty.

As an album, Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism wholly embodies all aspects of love. Every want, every desire, every word spoken, and every word left unsaid. Its really quite breath taking. I have never had such an emotional connection to an album, much less a song, as much as I have with Transatlanticism. It truly is perfect in every sense of the word.



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user ratings (1675)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtavanHalen
February 10th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

You could delete most of the opening paragraph, but otherwise I thank you for this review.

Merkaba33
February 10th 2009



702 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah this is a great album. passenger seat reminds my brother and i a lot of our childhood. maybe just because we grew up in the northwest and he mentions evergreens lol. good review

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2009



17117 Comments


got rid of a big chunk of the opening. i think it works better this way.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

Kiran
Emeritus
February 10th 2009



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I could never really get into Death Cab although I do enjoy this more than Plans.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 10th 2009



17117 Comments


what albums of theirs do you have?

Kiran
Emeritus
February 10th 2009



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, just this and Plans. Great review, by the way.

rasputin
February 10th 2009



14504 Comments


Very good album.

Mendigo
February 10th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

definitely belongs to the better indie rock albums of this decade. We Looked Like Giants is monstrous for that kind of music.

tombits
February 10th 2009



3463 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I find this boring.
Lack of Colour is awesome though.

Boognish
February 10th 2009



1003 Comments



No, this album is not a classic, by any means. People hand out 5's way too easily on sputnikmusic

Mendigo
February 10th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah, they don't really. but everyone has different 5s and so every second album ends up with one.

Knott-
Emeritus
February 10th 2009



10194 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

album is simply phenomenal. blows plans and most other music in GENERAL out of the water. one of my favourite records of all time.

AtavanHalen
February 10th 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

No, this album is not a classic, by any means. People hand out 5's way too easily on sputnikmusic

Says who?
And what, should we all be thinking like you? Boooooooring.

lunchforthesky
February 10th 2009



1039 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hey look, it's atavanhalen defending subjectivity by attacking other people's opinions. What a guy!!

NOTINTHEFACE
February 10th 2009



1653 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yes, this is great.

ninjuice
February 10th 2009



6758 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Review could use some more to it, but at the same time the album's so wonderfully simplistic I'd have a hard time writing any more than this.

SeaAnemone
February 10th 2009



18813 Comments


Great review... at one point I would have completely agreed with your sentiments a little ago, but I believe I overplayed this to the extent I can't as easily listen to this anymore... still a great album.

VicariousIntent
February 10th 2009



1591 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes yes yes, you're completely right. Thank you for writing this. Thinking of bumping this up to a 5 myself. It's gorgeous in every way.

Chewie
February 10th 2009



4531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

spot on, spot on. The only album I'd say is as much emotional connective as this is Siamese DreamThis Message Edited On 02.10.09

foreverendeared
February 10th 2009



14678 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have the world's biggest man-crush on Ben Gibbard.
it's too bad Zooey Deschanel stole you're man.



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