in Review

Death Cab Decoded

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

I had a handful of posts planned for this week, but with school finals I fell a bit behind. Don’t worry though, I still plan on doing my weekly installment on the story of The Defenestrators, I’ll just have to postpone it a little further so be on the lookout. I also have a few other albums and what not to review, but enough about that let’s talk about this album.

In the whole grand scheme of Death Cab For Cutie I’m not really sure where Codes and Keys stands. While Narrow Stairs felt like a significant leap in production and songwriting, Codes and Keys seems to continue the same kind of idea with just a slightly different musical approach. To some that may sound like total bullshit, but it’s the best I can explain how I feel about it. I’m not sure that I like it better than Narrow Stairs, but it’s a damn fine successor with some excellent production and instant Death Cab classics.

The shtick here was to record a less guitar centric album and use a more synth oriented sound. So does this mean it’s like Postal Service? No, not really, in fact the band has more appropriately likened it to Brian Eno’s 1975 album Another Green World. I can see this somewhat in the ambient synth textures that support the bulk of Codes and Keys and the use of electronics to create various rhythms, so it’s definitely reminiscent of that work, there’s just no English guy singing about St. Elmo’s Fire.

Despite this more electronic approach the songs on Codes and Keys would probably be interchangeable on almost any Death Can album. What can I say? They have an established sound. “Home is a Fire” and “Unobstructed Views” and maybe “Some Boys” best represent this “new sound” but there’s just as many familiarly arranged Death Cab tracks. “You Are a Tourist” is easy to fall in love with in it’s catchy riff and dissonant chorus hook as is “Underneath the Sycamore” which for someone reason really reminds me of something off of Narrow Stairs. The title track “Codes and Keys” is without a doubt my favorite track on the album, it’s just a great song, great melody, and great “George Martin-esque” strings.

As much as they might want to claim, I don’t think the band hasn’t made any significant leaps in style, but why should they? They seem perfectly comfortable with where they are and I love listening to where they are. I suppose at some point they’ll need to throw us off with something unexpected to stay fresh, but until then I’m perfectly content with what they’ve created here.

Favorite Tracks: “Codes and Keys”, “Doors Unlocked and Open”, “You are A Tourist”