Death Cab for Cutie
Codes and Keys


4.0
excellent

Review

by David Shephard USER (22 Reviews)
May 31st, 2011 | 42 replies | 5,618 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Death Cab observes the similarity between “playing it safe” and “playing it smart.”

11 of 11 thought this review was well written

Death Cab For Cutie is, for better or worse, one of those bands that will always be remembered for a single album despite having a lengthy catalogue of great material. Every post-Transatlanticism album will forever be known as “not as good as Transatlanticism” and sadly, there is very little Death Cab can do about it. It’s a shame we have to go through this once every couple of years because, in all seriousness, both Plans and Narrow Stairs were very solid releases. So before we go any farther we have to say, yet again, Death Cab’s latest release is not as good as Transatlanticism. Surprised? Nope? Glad we got that out of the way.

But that’s not to say Codes and Keys is just another Death Cab album. Codes and Keys pulses and sways with an energy and vigor one might say they lost with at least Narrow Stairs. Gibbard and company are in their element--both creatively and emotionally. Codes and Keys is significantly less angsty (a relative term, keep in mind who we are talking about here) than some other Death Cab work, but that’s not to say it’s completely flowery. If anything it’s emotionally unattached, which oddly enough works pretty well. Laced with swagger and confidence, Codes and Keys is prepared to take on the biggest arenas while staying completely album-oriented and smooth. There are obviously highlights and singles; “You Are a Tourist” is a terrific lead single featuring one of the catchiest riffs of the year, “Stay Young, Go Dancing” is a clever and fun closer almost serving as the joyous conjugate to “Stable Song” or, dare I say it, “A Lack of Color,” and “Unobstructed Views” is a slow moving epic unabashedly in the same vein as “What Sarah Said” or “I Will Possess Your Heart.” But really any song on Codes and Keys, especially tracks 7-11, could just as easily be a single, yet all flow perfectly with each other. It is in this way that Death Cab writes both the singles the passing fan wants and the album the diehard fan wants simultaneously.

Guitars are for the most part replaced with atmospheric and moody synths and drum beats. Gibbard’s voice is as prominent as one should expect, but even the frontman doesn’t steal the show. Each track builds subtly, adding layer after layer. It’s clear that either a lot of care was put into each song, or possibly the opposite, allowing each song to evolve organically. It’s certainly a grower, not because there’s too much to pick up on first listen, but quite simply because it takes a couple listens to release that there isn’t more to pick up on and that this exactly what Death Cab meant to bring to the table: simple, really well-written songs. This isn’t a career defining release by any means, but just another entry into an already prolific discography.

So again let’s take stock. No, it’s not the next Transatlanticism. It’s not an attempt even. Death Cab For Cutie recognizes their strengths and plays off them. Codes and Keys is easily better than Narrow Stairs and even might give Plans a run for it’s money as Death Cab’s finest post-Trans. It’s smart, clever, subtle, professional, and ultimately, vastly successful.



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user ratings (414)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Spencer Stoyer (3.5)
Codes and Keys doesn’t elicit the same amount of emotion that has made past albums so breathtaking...

Rudy K. STAFF (3)
So this is the new Death Cab, and I don't feel any different....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks to Waior for the summary. first time doing a new release. low 4, 3.8 or so. feedback always appreciated.

Mordecai.
May 31st 2011



8255 Comments


i thought this stunk of Waior as i was reading it.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2011



10193 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

lol you can't just re-use summaries!!

demigod!
May 31st 2011



40970 Comments


great review, never listened to this band. sounds too whiny for me

Romulus
May 31st 2011



8372 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

better than transatlanticism!

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

also thanks to knott for the idea to re-use a summary of course

luschlotz
May 31st 2011



993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Am I the only one who doesnt like translanticism??? I am loving this, very radiohead-y, but poppier. Amazing.

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think transatlanticism is a little overrated but still their best. I sort of put it on a pedestal in the review mostly to match the general opinion of most people.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 31st 2011



17116 Comments


album is bland bland bland

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

balcaen
May 31st 2011



3183 Comments


narrow stairs sucked too, dude. this is... eh
it also has the worst album art

Blackbelt54
May 31st 2011



4266 Comments


tl;dr

jk nice review. i have no interest really in hearing this though

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no plans art is way worse dude.

tbh I don't see why this is getting so much hate. I mean if you didn't like plans or narrow stairs at all this won't be the album to win you back but it's easily on par with those.

balcaen
May 31st 2011



3183 Comments


plans was awesome, imo. narrow stairs lacked a lot of inspiration and this is the equivalent of ben gibbard realize that he in fact, has no pension plan.

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

plans is better but still this isnt too far off

Hep Kat
May 31st 2011



14009 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this album is hella gay. like as gay as saying hella. that's preeeeeeeee gay

Digging: Fucked Up - Year of the Dragon

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 31st 2011



7234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very, very good review, pos'd.

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it is kind of gay but its dcfc...

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2011



10193 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I think 'You Are A Tourist', 'St. Peter's Cathedral' and 'Stay Young, Go Dancing' rule - especially the latter two. But I don't get how anything else on here is good.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 31st 2011



10193 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Plus, the demo version of 'Portable Television' is actually better than the album version.

Eko
May 31st 2011



2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

not even monday morning? or the title track?



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