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Death Cab For Cutie
Codes & Keys

Written by Jason Strange on 30th August, 2011

I feel a little bad to admit that after fifteen years and six full lengths, this, Death Cab For Cutie’s seventh long player “Codes & Keys” is also the first album of theirs I’ve ever bothered to listen to. I’m not sure why I haven’t previously. Could be just one of those bands I’ve meant to get around to and never have. Could also be the fact they have one of the stupidest band names in the history of rock, but the upside is that I could go into album completely unbiased by previous recordings.

On the surface, this record is a pop-lite, traditional emo record and has a similar vein to bands like Cold War Kids, The Get Up Kids, Built To Spill and Sunny Day Real Estate. The album is very drum and piano centric with floating guitar lines and singer Ben Gibbards melodic twang enhancing the musical landscape of the record.

There’s definitely alot to like about this record. It’s melodic, it’s got some great songs, it’s sweet and full of indie pop goodness. However, I was expecting more after listening to this record. It felt like it was really climbing towards something great and then…just stops short. Instead of hitting that 8 or 9 out of ten and seems to be happy to 6 or 7 out of ten. I’m sure for dedicated fans of the band, this will be exactly what they are after and expect, but in terms of enticing a new audience it promises so much and yet fails to deliver the knockout blow.

Tracks like ‘Some Boys’, ‘You Are A Tourist’ and ‘Underneath The Sycamore’ are great tracks but then you get ‘Portable Television’ which really should’ve been left off as a b-side. ‘Unobstructed View’ has a definitive Brian Eno sound with it’s meandering two and half minute intro that creates that dreamscape quality akin to Brian’s compositions but never quite kicks into gear when the vocals come in as I was expecting.

This record has its place and generally, I think is a good album but I can’t escape this gnawing feeling it could’ve been so much better than it is.

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