Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi


Album

Kintsugi

Label

Atlantic / Warner AU

Year

2015

Genre

For Fans Of

Death Cab For Cutie, feeling sad, dreaming, synesthesia

Summary

The perfect album to drive late at night to with a heavy heart and a lonely mind.

Rating

90 / 100

Kintsugi’ – just what the fuck does it mean? Well if the always factual and infallible Wikipedia is to be believed, then it’s a Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with various materials like powdered gold, silver and/or platinum. Whichever you fancy, really. Oh, and it’s the way of looking at the damage done to an object and it’s reparation as being a part of its history and not being an issue or a negative that one should overlook or skim over.

Ah, there we go. It’s all coming together now as to why Death Cab For Cutie chose this as the title. Like come on, that is such a *them* thing to do. It’s like Cannibal Corpse putting as much shade of red on their album covers as they can – you just expect shit like that by now.

The big news for the Washington group last year was that they’re now a trio with guitarist Chris Walla stepping down (though he still helps out cause he’s a top bloke and doesn’t like his spare down time). Despite their band mate no longer rounding out the troop, they still ride that chilled out indie rock vibe harder than Kelly Slater rides actual waves. It’s been about four years since their last full-length and fans will feel cozily at home with this awesome new effort.

“Awesome”. Yes…that’s how one might describe this sad and soulful 45 or so minute listen that grows on you each time like a small, conquering fungi growing over an unwashed part of your body. Another term that is equally associable for this record is ‘breakup’. In typical, Death Cab For Cutie fashion, this album is all about the failings of modern romance, if that wasn’t painstakingly obvious from the description of the album’s title, or as previously stated, it’s just expected.

Guitarist/singer/pianist Benjamin Gibbard paints some rather striking images with his honest lyrics and yearning vocals of a past relationship (more than likely about his divorce from Zooey Deschanel). However, a front man doesn’t represent a full band and the rhythm section of bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Jason McGerr is one solid combination. They are just so in sync and complimentary in their playing that they really steal the show at times, despite being so deceptively simple. So of course with great talent comes great art, right? You betcha!

No Room For Fame’ starts the album off on the low-key, hazy late night-like trance that it wants you to feel more than anything. Its dynamics rise and fall, the clean, eerie chords, the warm vocals, the washy synth, and simple instrumentation coupled with the great song-writing means it all gels together perfectly. While most of the album pulls these same kind of tricks, when the music is this enjoyable and this enticing, you just let it have its sensual ways with your ears. Lead single ‘Black Sun’ is a great example of how the band starts off these songs; minimal, atmospheric swells and simple chords that sets up an emotional template for the lyrics and the dynamic, rock solid drums to build upon. However sharp, fuzzy guitar riffs and an attention grabbing solo towards the end are quite refreshing, in the same way when someone dunks a bucket of cold water on you while you sleep – it’s all you can really think about when it hits you. The first big album stand out is ‘The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive’ and it’s here where some of the rockier moments come to fruition, yet the tones and melodies are still so dream like that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think they could have done the soundtrack for Drive.

From this song onwards, the album is a mesmerising listen that makes a few slight changes here and there to help keep it all diverse: From being relatively acoustic with ‘You’ve Haunted Me All My Life‘, to being stripped back with ‘Hold No Guns‘, to a having clean, catchy danceable pop sound, which seems like a kickback to older songs like ‘You Are A Tourist‘ with ‘Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)‘, to keeping the hairs on the back of your neck rigidly straight with captivatingly chilling songs like ‘El Dorado‘. The eb and flow of this record is just surreal and it never has any jarring distractions or pitfalls to pull you out of the moment-to-moment bliss.

Now, one track that has been floating around for a while now is ‘Little Wanderer’, and man, what a track this is. This song reaches deep inside you with its beautifully haunting melodies, soft vocals and yearning lyrics and forces the tears and emotions right like an emotional enema. This will definitely pull at something different for a lot of listeners out there, and for that it’s arguably the strongest track of the bunch.

From a lot of the above descriptions, younger fans may even liken these guys to the skinny Brits in The 1975, but we assure you, the likening should be the other way around. Even then, Death Cab For Cutie don’t really sound like most other bands in 2015, and that’s the ace up their sleeves that keeps them relevant. This is an album that you could go on for pages and pages about and while that’s fantastic, let’s wrap this up with some criticisms.

If there are any criticisms it would be that the band rarely deviates from their already established sound and all the songs can get quite similar after a while. The album can only really fit a few places, like in your car late at night, in your bed (also) late at night or early morning. Definitely not at a party, at work, the gym, or at school. But those are just small nitpicks of what is a great record, and if the band had deviated then there is a chance that ‘Kintsugi’ probably wouldn’t be as good as it currently stands. Trust us, once this album gets into you you’ll have to surgically remove your skin and muscles to get its hooks out of you.

Conclusion

There’s no beating around the bush – ‘Kintsugi’ is a sad, yet hauntingly beautiful sounding record. It’s music to softly dream to (God, that was one weird statement), it’s a melancholic lullaby that entrances you to sleep but it’ll be the most blissful and relaxing sleep you will ever have. If you’re relatively new to the band then this is an ideal entry point to an enthralling band. Death Cab For Cutie will make you feel utterly weightless and completely blissful with their new album. Just make sure you don’t go breaking any pottery.

Tracklisting

No Room In Fame

1. Black Sun

2. The Ghosts Of Beverly Drive

3. Little Wanderer

4. You’ve Haunted Me All My Life

5. Hold No Guns

6. Everything’s A Ceiling

7. Good Help (Is So Hard To Find)

8. El Dorado

9. Ingénue

10. Binary Sea

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