Album Review: Death Cab for Cutie – “Kintsugi”

I’ve never known a person who is continually negatively impacted by the ever so disappointing journey that is life, yet not get knocked down and dragged out. This man of course is Ben Gibbard, who on the opening track of Kintsugi (‘No Room In Frame’) sings, “And we’ll both go on to get lonely with someone else”,a clear-cut reference to his divorce with actress Zooey Deschanel.

This isn’t the only separation Gibbard and the rest of the Death Cab drivers have experienced since the release of 2011’s Codes And Keys, original guitarist Chris Walla announced his exit after this album was recorded.

And that right there is actually where the title gets its name – “kintsugi” is a Japanese art is which broken pottery is fixed using some sort of glue. I think the analogy pretty much speaks for itself.

In the spirit of “dancing while the Earth is caving in”, as Tom Delonge has said in at least ten songs, this is a relatively upbeat album. By that I mean you won’t be left in a puddle of tears, like the one’s after “What Sarah Said” and “Transatlanticism”. Even the downbeat tracks – “Little Wanderer”, “Everything’s A Ceiling”, and “Ingenue” – are carried by unique drumming and even pick up the pace either halfway or towards the end of the track. This album is also chock full of the melancholic guitars that this band has become known for.

^New wave?

Speaking of guitar, Chris Walla picked a good album to be his last. His guitar work is PHENOMENAL. Well-placed, heavy electric guitars are something we haven’t seen often in the rearview of the Death Cab. This really carries tracks like “Black Sun” and “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”, the former of which having the guitar kick in towards the end of the track for bombastic finish to the second track of the album.

The penultimate track, “Ingenue”, initially sound like it’s going to be the most boring track on the album. And if you listen to “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life” and “Hold No Guns” then you’ll know I mean absolutely SHATTER the boundaries of boredom. But that sentiment gets blown to oblivion at the 2:20 mark when the thunderous drums kick in and that heavy guitar sound overshadowing the joyous melody. The la la la laaaaaa’s actually sound better at this point of the song as well. Never judge a song until you’ve listened to the whole thing.

The closer “Binary Sea” reaffirms Gibbard’s belief that this band is far from done:

“For if there is no document
There cannot be a monument
So lean in close or lend an ear
There’s something brilliant bound to happen here”

While it’s a not fiery closing to the album (which is what I’ve come to prefer), those last two lines really do the band justice. The departure of one member isn’t going to crash the Cab.

Verdict: 7.5 / 10

Standout Tracks: “No Room In Frame”, “Black Sun”, “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”, “Everything’s A Ceiling”, “Ingenue”.

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