Death Cab for Cutie
Transatlanticism


5.0
classic

Review

by NOTINTHEFACE USER (17 Reviews)
December 20th, 2006 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Death Cab's definitive album, Transatlanticism is chock full of musical innovations, quirks, and hooks. There's something everyone can appreciate in this album, and remains one of the finest albums released by any artist.

Every once in a while, you hear an album that you know that you're going to be listening to until your dying day, an album that surpasses all boundaries of music you've previously conceived to change your outlook on what makes music "good" forever. Transatlanticism was one of those albums for me. As soon as the 7-minute-long title track hit its spectacular climax, I knew I had found something truly magnificent.

So what makes Transatlanticism so good? I think it's a combination of things. First of all, Ben Gibbard's lyrics are and always have been amazing. He has a way of communicating complex ideas into his songs while remaining very down-to-earth. I know that statement sounds very transcendental, so let me give an example. In the song "Expo '86" Ben relates being in love and losing it to going up and down a slide. Yeah, the kind of slide you see in a playground.

"Sometimes I think this cycle never ends.
We slide from top to bottom then we turn and climb again.
But it seems by the time that I have figured what it's worth
The squeaking of our skin against the steel has gotten worse.
But if I move my place in line, I lose.
And I have waited the anticipation's got me glued."

Simple things like that have a way of bringing a smile to your face but at the same time communicate a massive amount of emotion that nearly everyone can relate to, even if they've never had the exact same experience. My favorite lyrical moment has got to be "Title And Registration". Gibbard tells a simple story in retrospect that, when coupled with the simmering, subtly building music, is extremely moving but profoundly simple.

Another reason why I think Transatlanticism is so great is because the music contained therein is impossible to duplicate exactly. Take a band like Fall Out Boy: your band wants to do a cover, making the song sound exactly the same as it does in FOB's studio. Find a guy that sounds just like Patrick Stump, get a drummer, gay bassist, and two guitars and you more or less have a carbon copy of the original. Such a thing is next to impossible with something like Transatlanticism. It's part of what makes it so unique. For example, the little background electronic sounds in Transatlanticism (the song) and the swelling flute-noises in Title and Registration. And the stomping and clapping in The Sound of Settling. I could go on and on. They're all highly unconventional songwriting quirks that make it instantly recognizable and irreplacable.

Finally, the joy of Transatlanticism's music lies in simplicity. The guitar riff in "Expo '86" isn't particularly hard to play. It's just very digestible to the musical part of your brain while remaining unconventional and fresh and new. "Tiny Vessel"s crystal-clear, mournful guitars can sound complex on first listen, but when you break it down, it's just two guitars arpeggiating at once. The gentle piano octaves at the end of "Lack of Color" add so much while being very simple. Again, I could talk about all the simple innovations all day. But I'll just leave the better part of them for you to find.

In conclusion, Transatlanticism is a modern masterpiece. I've listened to it countless times in the last year or so I've owned it, and it never, ever gets old. If all you've heard from Death Cab is the "Plans" album, this should be the next thing you purchase. You'd be doing yourself an injustice not to have this work of art in your collection.



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user ratings (2409)
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
NOTINTHEFACE
December 20th 2006


2142 Comments


First review in a LOOOOONG time. This was originally submitted as a Facebook note-blog. I felt inspired to post it on Sputnik, because I kind of liked it. However, the writing syle may be slightly less formal than what I would normally post here.

mx
Moderator
December 20th 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

No this is a great review. And an amazing album!

iarescientists
December 20th 2006


5865 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, good review. The title track was boring at first for me, but as time has gone by it's really grown on me, so I don't necessarily agree with all you said, but regardless, good job.



A Lack of Color is my favorite track.This Message Edited On 12.20.06

Isola
December 20th 2006


421 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice to have you back man. Great review, great album. Agree with Jom "The New Year" is my favorite death cab tune too.

Two-Headed Boy
December 20th 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, McNOTINTHEFACE.



This album is so great, the title track, We Looked Like Giants and A Lack Of Color are all in various degrees of masterpiece.

Eliminator
December 20th 2006


2067 Comments


The glove compartment isn't accurately named.



The Jungler
December 20th 2006


4826 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, this album has some stellar tracks.

Hatshepsut
December 20th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, but this album is NOT that good.

mx
Moderator
December 20th 2006


752 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Pshaw

Eliminator
December 20th 2006


2067 Comments


Don't worry, Hatshepsut has bad taste.

Sepstrup
December 21st 2006


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tiny Vessels is such a great song. Awesome album.

NOTINTHEFACE
December 21st 2006


2142 Comments


Wow sputnik sure has expanded since last June. Back then, getting 12 comments and 5 votes in 24 hours was fairly rare. Thx for the feedback and looking forward to writing some more stuff on this site.

MrKite
December 21st 2006


5020 Comments


This, for some reason, came up when I clicked on My Discussions on the comment thing. Great review.

foreverendeared
December 22nd 2006


14720 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

my first death cab for cutie album... i love this album.

another thing i love is this review. great job

ghostly phoenix
July 21st 2008


24 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Very very overrated record. Sure, has some nice moments, but not the instant classic you proclaim it to be on account of "simplicty" and "songwriting quirks." Takes more than that and some lyrical nous to make a "classic" record.

NOTINTHEFACE
September 17th 2008


2142 Comments


Yet Radiohead's OK Computer is proclaimed a classic on the same grounds, and I don't find that album any more creative than this *winces and ducks for cover*

Chewie
October 23rd 2008


4544 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i don't understand why when something is well liked, it becomes over-rated. Over-rated doesn't really exist, something is either good, or bad

fireaboveicebelow
October 23rd 2008


6835 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yet Radiohead's OK Computer is proclaimed a classic on the same grounds, and I don't find that album any more creative than this *winces and ducks for cover*
DONT BE AFRAID BROTHER

AtavanHalen
October 23rd 2008


17919 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I honestly love this record far more than I've ever loved OK Computer.

And I'm totally fine with that.

Electric City
October 23rd 2008


15756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"The New Year" is my all-time favorite DCFC track.
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