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Death Cab For Cutie

FUV's New Dig: Death Cab for Cutie

Death Cab For Cutie

Change is inevitable. We’ve all experienced different degrees of change. While some embrace change, others are distressed by it. Death Cab for Cutie has seen some significant changes since their last album, 2011's Codes and Keys, and those seismic shifts inspired the group's brand new collection, Kintsugi. Over the past four years, Ben Gibbard, Death Cab for Cutie’s lead singer and guitarist, weathered a divorce from his wife, the actress and singer Zooey Deschanel. In 2013, founding member Chris Walla announced that he was leaving the band. Although Walla did contribute to the Kintsugi sessions, the band faces a future that no longer includes its lead guitarist and longtime producer. Although Kintsugi marks a last glance at Death Cab for Cutie as a quartet (for the moment), the album offers remaining members Gibbard, Nick Harmer and Jason McGerr a solid foundation as they look to the band's next phase.

Taking Ben Gibbard’s personal crisis and Chris Walla’s departure into account, Death Cab for Cutie named their eighth official studio album after a form of Japanese art known as kintsugi: fixing broken pottery by using precious metals like gold, silver or platinum. The repaired cracks add a new beauty to the once-damaged object. The philosophy of Kintsugi teaches that breakage is part of an object’s story; its repair should be viewed as something to flaunt, rather than disguise. 

For the album Kintsugi, Death Cab for Cutie worked with producer Rich Costey, whose résumé includes collaborations with Vampire Weekend and Foster the People. Since Chris Walla produced the group's last seven albums, it’s inevitable that Kintsugi would sound different. Although there are sonic differences, they aren’t obtrusive, and lend themselves well to the album. The production is clean, occasionally sparse, and there is plenty of room for Ben Gibbard’s vocals to take hold.

“No Room In Frame" opens with the type of light, electronic touches that are sprinkled throughout the album. This first song alludes to the recurring theme of the death of a relationship, stating, “Was I in your way when the cameras turned to face you? No room in frame for two.” The album takes a slow, dark turn on “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life” and the beautifully chilling “Hold No Guns," an acoustic song. Gibbard sings, "My love, why do you run? For my hands hold no guns.” It’s a simple, yet devastatingly powerful moment on Kintsugi.

References to lost love also appear in “Black Sun" and the pop-inflected “Good Help (Is So Hard To Find).”

Sometimes disorder can inspire and beauty can rise from destruction. “There is beauty in a failure," Gibbard observes in "Black Sun." With the frank and mature Kintsugi, Death Cab for Cutie embraces life’s changes and uses them to create something precious and distinctive.


Benjamin Gibbard—Words and Music—2012
Benjamin Gibbard and Jay Farrar—Words and Music—2009

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