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Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today (Album Review)

Friday, 24 August 2018 Written by Laura Johnson

First, some housekeeping. ‘Thank You For Today’ is Death Cab For Cutie’s first recording without guitarist and producer Chris Walla, which is something that could have hung heavy over the release. But to his bandmates’ credit his departure, and the addition of Dave Depper and Zac Rae to the line up, hasn’t sent things into a skid. Here the indie-rock lifers have newfound energy and, as a result, their ninth album is by and large an uplifting experience.

Although it was produced by Rich Costey, an all star performer who also helmed its predecessor, 2015’s ‘Kintsugi’, vocalist and guitarist Ben Gibbard recently admitted that their new material has more in common with their early 2000s output both tonally and lyrically. That places it alongside some of their best-loved, Walla-produced releases, setting it the task of, as Gibbard puts it, “looking forwards and backwards simultaneously.”

Gibbard is now 41, or past the point of no return as he sees it. He has reached a time in his life where he cannot choose different paths; all he can do is navigate the one he is on as best he can.

‘Thank You For Today’ finds Death Cab looking inward and Gibbard reflecting on how he got to where he is, while also determining how he will move forward. Again, there’s that push-pull of the past versus the present.

When We Drive, a song that displays Gibbard’s ability to paint a vivid picture, plays with the idea of history and present circumstances in a beautifully subtle way. “I can’t expect you to be honest, or to be faithful to the end, I just need you to be always a friend,” Gibbard sings. “As the sun sets over Dakota, underneath the crimson ocean of sky, know I’ll always want you by my side.”

Gold Rush, the record’s standout track, deals in country-influenced guitars, interweaving melodies and a chanted chorus, lyrically circling back to the overarching theme again. Gibbard explores the link between memory and geography, and how the loss of places that were formative to his development feels like losing a part of his history, making him a stranger in his own town.

Musically, the record is quietly majestic: uptempo, breezy and effortlessly earnest. Near/Far is a danceable number imbued with longing, while You Moved Away collects memories of a loved one leaving over a propulsive beat, synth layers and stripped back guitars.

Where ‘Kintsugi’ was a stylistic mixed bag, here we have a cohesive piece of work that will no doubt hit home with Death Cab fans, despite the occasional monotonous moment. It should chime particularly well with those who came up with the band, and are now nearer to middle age than they are their teens.

Death Cab For Cutie Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 24 2019 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Fri January 25 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sat January 26 2019 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Mon January 28 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Tue January 29 2019 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Wed January 30 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Fri February 01 2019 - LONDON Eventim Apollo

Click here to compare & buy Death Cab For Cutie Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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