eMusic Review 0
Somewhere along the line, Death Cab for Cutie got huge. The unassuming rockers from Bellingham, Washington, went platinum with 2005's Plans (a milestone even Arcade Fire haven't matched), topped the charts with 2008's Narrow Stairs, and even contributed the lead single (over Thom Yorke, the Killers and Muse) to the Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack. Oh, and Ben Gibbard, the group's lovelorn boy-next-door frontman, married actress/She & Him singer Zooey Deschanel a couple years ago.
It turns out hugeness becomes them. On Codes and Keys, the instinctively self-effacing band appears, for the first time, at ease with their steady, organic success; the result is the best Death Cab record since 2003's Transatlanticism. Where the bleak Narrow Stairs telegraphed its gestures toward adventurousness too obviously, here atmospheric electronics and foreboding bass lines lock together seamlessly in songs that find indie rock's quintessential Smart, Sensitive Guy finally coming to terms with everything he's secretly been afraid of: domesticity, comfort, Los Angeles.
A lot of that is thanks to the band's guitarist and longtime producer, Chris Walla, who — with mixing help from alt-rock luminary Alan Moulder — has created a space for Gibbard's melodies that's as vast and conflicted as Southern California.… read more »