You may have noticed a drop in articles for the Music to Your Ears column. There’s a typical lull at some point in the year, as either interest in content itself drops for this writer, or work ramps up outside the Interjections blog and podcast. It’s never truly intentional, but sometimes becomes borne of necessity. Alas, July was one of those lulls, and while there was some good stuff – mostly singles from upcoming albums, it wasn’t worth taking time out of our busy schedules to write up what you might need to know. Honestly, I’m sort of disappointed in the recent trend of releasing five singles before an album debuts – it’s practically half the album, so I’d rather listen to it all when the whole record drops. That’s the case with our first review today:
Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today
For the group’s ninth album, it’s all about retrospection. Frontman Ben Gibbard has gone on record as saying that he believes this is the perfect album for mid-life: he’s at the point at which he’s looking backwards as much as he’s looking toward his future, and that spills out through his music here. If you know anything about the guy, and he’s certainly the most integral part of the band, his love life has been first and foremost at the forefront of his art. His side projects and solo albums represent a side-ego, while his main through line has always been about attaining that which most of humanity strives for: happiness with a soul mate. For him to have gone through that and come back again alongside the literal manic pixie dream girl that starred in 500 Days of Summer, it’s a bit tough to separate his real-life experiences and the music he’s created. Certainly, it’s not like he’s attempting to hide that fact. When they were blissfully married, we had the sunniest output this one-time “emo” band produced: Codes and Keys. Once they’d divorced, fairly soon after the release of that album, we had the most dour sound: Kintsugi. Now that the dust has settled for several years, we have the phoenix that has risen since. It’s a thoughtful yet pained address to that hopeful child Gibbard once was: “It won’t end up like you predicted, but it certainly will have been worth it. Don’t regret it, you’ll love again.” He even manages to produce a meditative reflection on 2003’s track “Passenger Seat” in the sequel stunner “When We Drive”.
Chris Walla, longtime guitarist for DCFC, is gone for the first time since the group’s first album You Can Play These Songs with Chords. While his personal contribution may be sorely missing, it’s filled ably by Dave Depper and Zac Rae, who throw in their own style on first single “Gold Rush” and closer “60 & Punk”. The most poignant part of the album fills the middle of the album, where Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry pops up for backing vocals on “Northern Lights”. It’s still a little obvious that Gibbard misses his ex-wife, as he’s placed blantant references to her 2009 film by naming tracks “Summer Years” and “Autumn Love” It’s okay to have some subtlety, but it never really was Gibbard’s forte. Longtime fans will be thrilled to be lovelorn alongside Death Cab once again.
Key Tracks: When We Drive / Northern Lights / Your Hurricane
Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol and Santigold