Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today

by James Weiskittel Rating:7 Release Date:2018-08-17
Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today
Death Cab For Cutie - Thank You For Today

Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard has been charming fans with his unassuming brand of ‘nice-guys-finish-last’ rock for over twenty years. Refining and polishing his band’s sound with every subsequent release, its Gibbard’s continued devotion to his pop-sensibilities that remains the one consistent thread running throughout the Death Cab catalog. Thank You For Today, the indie-pop juggernaut’s ninth overall release, finds the 42-year-old songwriter still ruminating over the ever-reliable topics of love and loss, all while coming to terms with an always looming mortality.

Once again teaming up with producer Rich Costey, Thank You For Today finds Gibbard and Co. picking up right where they left off with 2015’s well-received Kintsugi. The album-opening “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”, which finds Gibbard lamenting “when I awoke I could not remember anything you said” over a surreal bed of phase-shifting synths and a hand-clap rhythm, is the kind of vintage moment that the band hopes will “remind people why they liked or loved the band in the first place”.

The album’s first single, the haunting “Gold Rush”, dwells on nostalgia via a heavy-handed narrative about coming to grips with the inevitable progress of change while the disarmingly poignant ballad “60 & Punk” is a generation-X take on the tried-and-true ‘Turn The Page’ narrative; one where Gibbard laments “Broke and working in a record store, daydreamin’ about the upcoming tour, were you happier when you were poor?”

Meanwhile, the shimmering, arpeggio-driven “Summer Years” and the mid-tempo “Your Hurricane” are the kind of ‘Death-Cab-by-numbers’ moments that would easily find a home on any of the band’s recent releases. In fact, if there is one criticism to be drawn from Thank You For Today, it’s that the album’s tone of understated familiarity threatens to undercut the potency of the subject matter contained within.

While all the ingredients (lush, multi-layered vocals; tasteful guitar playing; crisp drums and belabored synth work) are still in place, there are moments where Gibbard's inspired vocal performances are just begging for something a bit more sonically visceral, as opposed to the slick, heart-on-your-sleeve, anthemic indie-rock that has come to define latter-day Death Cab releases.

But by this point, fans know what they are going to get from Death Cab For Cutie. After all, Gibbard didn’t earn his reputation as one of rock’s most bankable bandleaders by throwing ill-advised curveballs to his long-time audience. But one still can’t help but wonder what it would sound like if just once he took a swing for the fences.

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