Death Cab for Cutie
Codes and Keys


3.5
great

Review

by Spencer Stoyer USER (8 Reviews)
June 8th, 2011 | 11 replies | 3,081 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Codes and Keys doesn’t elicit the same amount of emotion that has made past albums so breathtaking. And isn’t that the reason we listen to bands like Death Cab?

Plans was a giant leap forward for a band that had rooted themselves in monotony and inserted apathy where passion should’ve been. There is much to be said about the incredible writing talent that Gibbard has but the bands musical execution never quite seemed to capture the potential of the beautiful words that flowed from Gibbards mind. Until Plans. We then get treated to Narrow Stairs which showcases some of the best writing I’ve seen on an album and the band is more than happy to follow suit, creating what may have been one of the best releases of 2008. Now we have Codes and Keys and the exact opposite problem is present: The music is still beautiful but Mr. Gibbard is getting lazy.

As soon as you heard the single “You Are a Tourist” you could tell the Gibbard took a back seat and let the band do the rest of the work. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as there are many catchy riffs and plenty of interesting musicianship to be found throughout the album. As for me, the thing I’ve always loved about Death Cab was how well-written the lyrics are and how much they can pertain to my own life. But few relatable things are found here, the overall writing of the album feels far off and maybe a little bit too abstract to be relatable. Some of the blandness that has plagued pre-Plans albums is here too. It feels as if this is Death Cab just going through the motions, creating something that will make the record label happy but without any real conviction.

All this doesn’t make it a bad album; there are plenty of gorgeous things to be found. Like the opening piano in “Unobstructed Views” and the surprisingly optimistic “Stay Young, Go Dancing”. The best thing about the album is when Gibbard isn’t singing. The music soars and soothes just as well as you’d expect from any good Death Cab album and I’m more than happy to hear it. Such things as the nicely catchy riff in “You Are a Tourist” or the lovely string instrumentation in the title track “Codes and Keys” can hook someone into the album. Unfortunately, there isn’t much substance to keep us there, the writing is just, lethargic and uninteresting for the most part. The best writing is found on “St. Peters Cathedral” wherein he approaches faith with caution and suspicion. The imagery is fantastic and you briefly get a glimpse of the great “Narrow Stairs” Death Cab.

Overall, Codes and Keys is a good one or two time listen but if you want something that tugs your heartstrings just a little more listen to Plans or Narrow Stairs. The music is great and there are one or two good writing moments, but I miss the Ben Gibbard that could write some of the most spectacularly written poetry in modern indie music.

Listen to:
St. Peters Cathedral
Unobstructed Views
Stay Young, Go Dancing



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user ratings (433)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (3)
So this is the new Death Cab, and I don't feel any different....

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
Acanthus
June 9th 2011


9542 Comments


Hmm this wasn't a bad review, if I had to be nitpicky I'd say the first thing that jumped out at me was sentence structure early on in the review. Others might like more information on the music rather than personal input, or at least a balance of the two.

Digging: Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood

UORawker
June 9th 2011


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It isn't my best but I'm tired... Lol I'll probably do a little bit of editing and tweaking later but, for now, I'm ok with this. Thanks for you input though!

UORawker
June 9th 2011


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I fixed some of the problems... It looks better to me. Thank you for your input!

Acanthus
June 9th 2011


9542 Comments


Oh no problem, and I understand fatigue affecting one's writing capabilities!


Eko
June 9th 2011


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

woah woah trans is way more emotional than plans or narrow stairs

well written tho so I pos

UORawker
June 9th 2011


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I disagree... I couldn't stand Trans at all! But to each their own!

Thanks for the pos though!

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2011


9034 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Please tell me who this 'Gibbard' is and what plans or narrow stairs have to do with this album because you never tell me what they are.

UORawker
June 9th 2011


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gibbard is the lead singer and songwriter of the band and Plans and Narrow Stair are Death Cabs past two albums...

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2011


23814 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the riff from You Are A Tourist is so good

UORawker
June 9th 2011


123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I felt like adding a "duh" to the end of the sentence but then I felt it'd be a little bit juvenile.


So I wrote this sentence instead.

Eko
June 10th 2011


2119 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah you are a tourist is catchiest riff ive heard this year



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