June 15th, 2011
Although the first track echoes “Nothing’s the same,” don’t worry. It’s just the happier side of Death Cab for Cutie that we all know and love. Somebody said this album is proof that Ben Gibbard suddenly realized he’s married to Zooey Deschanel and rejoiced. Just look at the upbeat track titles: “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” “Underneath the Sycamore,” “Doors Unlocked and Open.” Hear lovestruck vestiges in lyrics like “She may be young but she only likes old things,” “cause when she sings I hear a symphony,” and my personal favorite the resounding “This fire grows higher.”
Guitarist Chris Walla told Rolling Stone that Codes and Keys “continued to be fun to work on all the way to the end, which is seldom the case with any record. That has a lot to do with what the songs are about.” Apparently, they continuously switched studios and took weeks off for family-time. A brilliant way to avoid getting mired in the process.
Mixed by producer Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine) there’s a dubby influence, overlaid instrumentation, less guitar more synth. Sometimes coming off as dancy and other times mysterious, nothing can really dispense the folksy from their vocals. The sound may not bring anything new to the table as far as their own history. Many argue that this could be titled A Death Cab Compilation: Just the Happier Sh*t. But isn’t happy-town the logical place to go after Plans (2005)? Besides the fact that it was released circa Katrina, that album is kill-yourself city. With all the longing in “Marching Bands of Manhattan,” shouldn’t we be happy for them? Frankly, it’s relieving to know I don’t have to worry about these guys. They’re in a better head-space now. Whenever I hear “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” I go to my quivery-lip, I-miss-my-best-friend place.
Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys by ATL REC
In related news, Bassist Nick Harmer also got married, but we don’t know her. Drummer Jason McGerr just had a kid, which makes me wonder how he managed to even work on this…Whatever, my bet’s on Zooey.
Freelance writer, novelist, and editor for Prick of the Spindle, Sarah Rae lives and writes in Brooklyn.
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