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Death Cab for Cutie's latest release is defined by awakenings in sound and trajectory. It is almost unrecognizable when compared to the earlier work of a band that spoke to a decade of teenage angst and general malaise. The succumbing to the elements inherent in 2005's Plans has been replaced by a mature outlook, likely influenced by frontman Ben Gibbard's sobriety and marriage. Calling it emo would be false categorization.

Lead single "You Are a Tourist" is the genuine article as pop singles go. It is a fluid arrangement, piercing the listener's subconscious and extracting beautiful, abstract truths. The track builds effortlessly from its predecessor, the catchy, colossal wall of drifting sound of "Doors Unlocked and Open."

Gibbard and company's penchant for soaring melody is on full display for the first half of the record, before the hanging coma of "Unobstructed Views," and from thereon spirals down to Earth with a gentle shift in tonality. DCFC has always been a band capable of crafting pristine, floating-in-space soundscapes, and while Codes and Keys is a departure on many fronts, it is no exception to their rule.

  • Album: Codes and Keys (2011)
  • Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Songs: (1) Home Is a Fire (2) Codes and Keys (3) Some Boys (4) Doors Unlocked and Open (5) You Are a Tourist (6) Unobstructed Views (7) Monday Morning (8) Portable Television (9) Underneath the Sycamore (10) St. Peter's Cathedral (11) Stay Young, Go Dancing
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