Death Cab for Cutie, “No Room in Frame” from Kintsugi (2015): One Track Mind

Share this:

If a trend is emerging, as we absorb a second song from the forthcoming Kintsugi, it’s that Death Cab for Cutie seems to have returned to the familiar atmospherics of the 2003 breakthrough Transatlanticism. That is to say, there’s a considered, singer-songwriterly attention to detail — and a darker conflict at play.

Back then, Death Cab for Cutie dealt with a lost love over an album-length theme, whereas Kintsugi (due March 31, 2015 via Atlantic) is haunted by the departure of guitarist and producer Chris Walla. Even if he, in fact, participated in these sessions, the knowledge that Walla is gone now make lines like “you cannot outrun a ghost” resonate with painful precision.

They also signal a kind of resignation, perhaps, toward who and what they are, even as Death Cab for Cutie stir in a few more electronics. For all of their willingness, and even success, with more upbeat material — the kind that dominated 2011’s Codes and Keys — Ben Gibbard and company have always found their more intriguing depths when shadows gather.

As such, the departure of Chris Walla (with Death Cab for Cutie since 1997) seems to have grounded them, even as it opened up their musical palettes. “No Room in Frame,” even more than “Black Sun,” is the sound of a band playing with a renewed confidence — even if it was borne out of deep uncertainty.

Put differently, Death Cab for Cutie hasn’t recently presented so much like themselves as they do here, the way that most came to know them, the way that they were as they came into their own. And yet, Kintsugi clearly isn’t going to be a moment of snoozy sentimentality. Death Cab for Cutie show here that they know where they’ve been, but at the same time seem determined to carry that experience into vibrant new places.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close