Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys

It hardly seems possible that Death Cab For Cutie are 14 years into their existence, and that Codes and Keys will be their seventh full length album. Prior to its release the band said that this will be "a much less guitar-centric album than we’ve ever made before". I almost think they made that bit up; there's plenty of six string evidence here, but perhaps used in different ways than hitherto. Better still, we still have that sense of melodic hypnosis in the smooth fullness of their distinctive sound.

You might have wondered if Ben Gibbard had lost any sense of mournfulness since his marriage to Zooey Deschanel, but no, that creeping feeling of melancholy still pervades, never more so than in 'You Are A Tourist' with its repeated refrain "There's a burning in your heart". I'm reassured, I wouldn't have hoped for any less from Ben and the boys. This is what they excel at, that sense of creeping depression and slight despair. I was looking for something here to take equal place in my affections with their 2006 opus 'I Will Follow You into the Dark', and I think I have found it in 'Doors Unlocked And Open', an ethereal take on the disconnection and angst of post modern life. An "ocean of sound" indeed, in which you have your innards gently wrenched by stream of consciousness lyrics as you are drawn in and drowned.

It's not all gloom; there's a quiet but distinct sense of upbeat hymnal about 'Monday Morning', and then, against all the odds, the most distinctive track is closing number 'Stay Young, Go Dancing' which starts as a simple folk-ish ditty, but develops into what I can only describe as a sweet and joyful ode to love and life. Perhaps this is the Zooey effect I'd been looking for all along.

If I've made this whole thing, with the exception of the last track, sound glum, that's not my intent at all. We all suffer at times from a sense of longing and forlornness; it is my estimation that this record will touch that spot and stay there as a lasting touchstone of comfort.

Overall

8

out of 10

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