Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys

In my opinion, the best track of an album should never be number 1 on the cd. Many bands have made this mistake down the years. This explains why my 4 favourite bands, are my 4 favourite bands. Death Cab, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver and the Avett Brothers have never begun an album with what they would deem their most popular song. After listening to the most popular and probably best track on an album, your expectations for what is to follow rise uncontrollably.

Therefore, it’s good that Home Is A Fire (the 1st track) is not the best. Having said that, I still like it. The cymbals and calm guitar during the verses reminded me a lot of his old Postal Service work which I adore. Just not compared to the rest of the album. It’s a bit of a dreary start compared to what is to follow.

That said, Codes and Keys, the second track will surely reaffirm your love with this band. The opening lyric ‘we won’t get far’ helps you remember why you love this insecure nerd of a singer who has captured the hearts of many people (including myself). The old sounding piano that rattles along Gibbards vocals keeps you interested. Just as when he gets to each chorus and the vocals become more melodic and easy hearing, similar to olde work like Lack of Colour. The final build is also comparable to songs from artists like Bruce Springsteen. It’s just awesome basically. And got me very excited for the rest of the album.

Doors Unlocked And Opened is the first song you encounter that has a very long intro, something any Death Cab fan will understand. (Transatlanticism? I will Possess your Heart?). But this time, the beat you hear is more of a running beat. The bass is consistent and fast and the chords change between minor and major quite often. This is uncharacteristic of prior Death Cab intros so it makes for an interesting change. Once you reach the chorus you get rewarded for enduring such ‘dark music’. The bass lifts, Gibbards voice becomes less distorted and the songwriter grips you once more.
“somewhere down, down, down in the ocean” seems like an appropriate lyric to highlight at this moment as I sit 37,000 feet above it.

You Are a Tourist contains the best riff in the album (come on, it so does!). My friend after listening once through to the album already knew that this would be his favourite song. I can’t help but compare the riff to the Miike Snow song ‘song for no one’. Hopefully you’ll understand should you listen to the song. The band pace the song perfectly if you think about the lyric ‘there’s a burning in your heart’. The switch between the sexy riff, the breakdowns, the slow builds and his vocals mean you can associate with this song as it takes you on an emotional, musical adventure.

Unobstructed views. Just wow. If you are yet to listen to the album I’ll compare this to one song only, my favourite Death Cab song, Transatlanticism. Whilst both songs sound different, they are structured in the same way. The immensely slow build for the opening 2/3 minutes that whisks you away into your thoughts occurs first. This before Gibbards voice eases into your speakers with ‘there’s no light, in the sky. Just our love’ if you’re not lost in your own imagination by now, then you are probably being forced to listen to the music by a true Death Cab fan. A whining riff that has you mesmerised plays out the rest of the song, a song that leaves you begging at Gibbards feet for more. More of his perfection.

To bring the listener back to earth, the title of the following song is appropriately named ‘Monday Morning’. The standard drum beat is incredibly easy to listen to as Gibbards plays his voice like a grade 9 pianist would a piano. It’s a wonderful song that is similar to older songs like Cath and Expo 86. “Muuundaaii Mournning!” resounds in your head long after you stop listening to the song.

Now we come to the most interesting song of the album, Portable Television. The only other song that I know with Television in the title comes from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, so unfortunately my expectations were higher than usual….The opening piano riff sounds like the beginning of a Regina Spektor song, things were going well. That until the most bizarre drum beat comes in! I have listened to the song numerous times and I still can’t follow the beat of the drum with my finger. That said, it makes me enjoy the song more, it’s like a challenge. But who knows, maybe you’re not a retard like me and just hear a regular drum beat.

Underneath the Sycamore is another classic Death Cab song. A running treble keeps the verses jumping along. This before the chorus pipes up with some beautiful repetitions of “we are the same”.
I guess it’s most similar to ‘Death of an Interior Designer……if you were wondering.

It seems like a sin not to talk about track 10. I could listen to his voice with no backing all day long, as the opening portrays what an astonishing voice this man has. However it gets better. Once the beat comes in, it sounds very similar to his Postal Service work. It’s hard to describe the sound. But I guess you could say it’s similar to the old Super Mario soundtrack…..just more depressing.

And then we arrive at the final song which begins with the words “life is sweet”. Other lines like “it can never bring you down” make you think you’re listening to the new Noah and the Whale album, but no! This is in fact Ben Gibbard who is bringing a positively wonderful end to a fantastic album.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to stay young and go dancing. Maybe you should do the same.




You get the idea…

Location:Above the Atlantic Ocean

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