Review: Death Cab for Cutie, ‘Codes and Keys’

Review: Death Cab for Cutie, ‘Codes and Keys’: Aidin Vaziri | “Finally, there is clarity,” Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard sings on “Monday Morning,” a track from the group’s uncharacteristically upbeat seventh studio album, “Codes and Keys.” For a songwriter who has spent the better part of his career moping about unrequited love and interminable loneliness, he certainly has plenty to be cheerful about. Leading up to the making of the new record, the group’s first since 2008’s “Narrow Stairs,” he kicked alcohol, took up running marathons and married every indie boy’s Hollywood crush, Zooey Deschanel. To drive the point home, Gibbard even ditched the geeky glasses. As a result, the acoustic guitars have been set aside as analog synths and lovely strings take the fore, making the album’s gorgeous, slowly unfolding melodies sound as massive as possible. But clear skies don’t necessarily make for a clear head. While there are certainly moments where he is positively soaring (Exhibit A: the punchy first single and title track), the singer-songwriter’s inborn insecurity surfaces over and over in the minor keys of songs like “Some Boys,” “Portable Television” and particularly the devastating atmospheric ballad “You Are a Tourist” (“I couldn’t stand a chance without you”). It’s the sound of insecurity amplified – and reassuring as all hell.

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