Death Cab for Cutie: Kintsugi Album Review

Written by on April 1, 2015

Ah, DCFC. This band has taken me on a tour of emotion through the years- “Marching Bands of Manhattan” evokes sadness, “I Will Possess Your Heart,” a cold anger, “A Lack of Color” tranquility, and “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” nihilistic love. Needless to say, DCFC has proven countless times to fans their worth in the pantheon of alternative rock gods.

In Kintsugi, I was looking forward to the storytelling genius I came to love in Plans or the intense instrumental skill of Narrow Stairs. But what I got was a DCFC album focused on lyricism, telling the story of a man who’s suffered a terrible breakup. (This album came after DCFC songwriter Benjamin Gibbard’s wife Zooey Deschanel broke up with him.)

“No Room in Frame” begins Kintsugi with layered synths that tickle the ears and a familiar Ben Gibbard pairing of depressive lyrics with a cheerful melody. In this beginning song we hear traces of the Radiohead-esque electronic instrumentation that differentiate Kintsugi from all previous DFCF offerings.

One of the two songs I would learn to sing along to, “The Ghost of Beverly Drive” sounds the most like classic DCFC, featuring a minimal bassline and fast-paced, hihat- heavy drumming. Yet it still manages to innovate with a vaguely Eastern fill in the middle portion of the song and an absolutely fantastic bridge featuring a dark synth (2:41-3:06).

I hope that we can see more of this electronic influence in future albums from Ben Gibbard and the crew.

Kintsugi’s biggest weakness is its repetition. Most songs describe a similar theme-love lost-with little to no true solos. Some could call this a matter of taste, but DCFC wasted a lot of space where they could have innovated melodically.

“Ingenue” is the other song I would listen to enough to learn its lyrics. It’s a pleasant, plodding ballad with a sonic texture composed of the word “la” looped hundreds of times, bright electric guitar and lots of closed hi hat and sleigh bells. In my opinion it’s the most musically complex song on the album.

Overall, I was not amazed on my first listen. But after a second and third time listening to each song, they grew on me, and I appreciate the talent that went into writing them even if the creativity wasn’t apparent on every single song.

Rating: 3/5


By Nicholas Randall

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