Death Cab For Cutie has undergone an impressive 18-year career that has produced eight studio albums, including their latest, Kintsugi. At this point in any band’s career it would be all too easy to retire, especially with the band knowing of the departure of guitarist/producer Chris Walla that would occur post-Kintsugi. Luckily for fans of the Seattle indie rock outfit, the trying time produced one of Death Cab For Cutie’s finest efforts to date.
Lyrically Kintsugi returns to the deeply poetic writing scheme that was lacking at times in the band’s previous LP, Codes and Keys. “Little Wanderer” highlights this skill, as Gibbard sings from the perspective of his loved ones, always awaiting his return. The thought-provoking metaphors come in full swing with the hard-hitting “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,” where Gibbard likens his recovery from his divorce to a car crash that has left him diminished and vulnerable.
If only you’d have known me before the accident
For with that grand collision came a grave consequence
Receptors overloaded, they burst and disconnect
‘Til there was little feeling please work with what is left
Musically, Kintsugi manages to feel very familiar while never leaving the listener bored with rehashed material as one might expect after an 18-year stint. The band experiments with synthesizers and updated guitar tones, making it safe to say that listeners have never heard anything of the likes of “No Room In Frame,” “Everything’s a Ceiling,” or “Good Help (Is Hard To Find)” from Death Cab For Cutie. Yet, these tracks manage to feel right at home in the band’s catalog. Other times, Kintsugi subtly alludes to older work with acoustic cuts “Hold No Guns” and “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life.” Although the two acoustic tracks may draw on a little long for newer fans, the album presents a cohesive and strong set of songs that should give fans from the We Have the Facts… era to the Codes and Keys era something to hold on to.
Overall, Kintsugi’s honest and fresh qualities make it one of Death Cab For Cutie’s best, giving the trio much promise as they move forward.