Death Cab for Cutie
Producer: Chris Walla
Codes and Keys, the seventh album and most recent release by Death Cab for Cutie, is a non-guitar driven experiment, receiving mixed results for its efforts.
“Home Is a Fire” is the un-begun beginning of this album. Right when you expect that it might take off, it doesn’t. Worse than that, the music betrays some fairly thoughtful lyrics. “Codes and Keys” melodically pulls things together with some wonderful balances of music defining moments and thoughts – very nice. The 12/8 meter of “Some Boys” is a commentary from the boys-now-men of Death Cab for Cutie on those not married and/or in love. Usually, pertaining to song material, there is nothing worse than a composer/musician who has fallen in love, case in point, 97% of John Lennon’s entire solo career. However, “Some Boys” retains the interest of the listener by avoiding the pitfalls of “moon-in-June” saccharine lyrics and schmaltzy music. Also, nice chord twists in the end, guys. “Doors Unlocked and Open,” with its self-indulgent beginning that goes on and on, really drops the ball. Half way through, when the song finally tries to arrive, I don’t care anymore – then, it slips back into a straight-sounding Mighty Boosh tune mixed with a Pavement outtake – a could-of-been that wasn’t. “You Are a Tourist” (do I hear some…guitar…?) is clearly the best song of the album as it exhorts the listener to listen to those little voices within and act. “Unobstructed Views” is virtually stillborn – a bad, unimportant squint left off a Pink Floyd album, post-Roger Waters. As I tried to listen, I began to think about everything else I had to do that day…
With the exception of the last tune, “Stay Young, Go Dancing,” which is a very good cut, the rest of the album wanders aimlessly. It’s like walking through a forest: you can see some nice things, but you have to keep your eyes sharp because there are a hell of a lot of trees, leaves and weeds.
With this new album, Death Cab for Cutie maps a trek purposely away from ground covered in previous journeys, which I can appreciate. Unfortunately, the problem with Codes and Keys is that they just don’t seem to arrive at any clear destination.