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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Death Cab for Cutie returns with typical somber sound

"Kintsugi"

Death Cab for Cutie

In the opening seconds of indie band Death Cab for Cutie’s latest album, “Kintsugi,” glitchy beeps accompany Ben Gibbard’s high-pitched croon, and reverb-laden synths and sharp guitar riffs surge with punchy drum beats following to drive the track forward. The album opens in a calculated fury of catchy and emotion-driven tracks such as “No Room in Frame” and “Black Sun.” These tracks hit hard thematically as they talk about his relationship with his ex-wife and love in general, and they contain more of a rock sound than was present on its last album, “Codes and Keys.” This slight shift in sound is a welcome return for the band.

However, there are still plenty of Gibbard’s usual lyrics pertaining to longing and unrequited love. He is a hopeless romantic at heart and is not shy about it, but the shift in instrumental style aids in keeping the album at a steady pace, not letting it stagnate with one sad, drawn-out song after another. There are a few slower, more stripped-down songs like “Little Wanderer” and “Hold No Guns,” which cause the album to drag a bit. They are a little too melodramatic and banal without a solid tempo to back them up.

This album has a somber tone overall, and the production gives it a distant and echo-like sound. There is an air of reflection and struggle here that gives the music and lyrics a genuine quality, but in the album’s second half, they sound less crafted and can border on being cliche. While the band does rehash similar styles and themes from its previous albums, the tracks feel varied enough to keep the album interesting from start to finish. There is nothing radically different on this album than its previous output, but in “Kintsugi,” Death Cab for Cutie continues to do what the band does so well. The result is a catchy album filled with heartfelt and poetic reflections on love and loss.