Death Cab for Cutie's latest turns up the synth

With its upbeat melodies buoying angst-filled verses, Kintsugi provides a familiar view.

Indie-pop band Death Cab for Cutie's Kintsugi soundtracks a melancholic drive down the California coast.
  • Indie-pop band Death Cab for Cutie's Kintsugi soundtracks a melancholic drive down the California coast.

“How could something so fair be so cruel?” Ben Gibbard asks on the lead single of Death Cab for Cutie's first studio release in nearly four years. With that question, “Black Sun” sets the tone of Kintsugi, an album full of lyrical despair and uncertainty.

"Black Sun" by Death Cab for Cutie

Lead single off of Death Cab for Cutie's latest album, <em>Kintsugi</em>

Lead single off of Death Cab for Cutie's latest album, Kintsugi

Backing Gibbard's vivid portraits of heartbreak set in the City of Angels are crisply produced tracks laced with electronic beats, often giving off a new wave vibe. While Death Cab are no strangers to synths and drum machines, songs such as “El Dorado” and “No Room In Frame” see the band diving a little deeper into the synth-pop genre.

“Little Wanderer,” featuring a guitar riff reminiscent of Depeche Mode, revisits the long-distance love theme of Death Cab's 2003 release, Transatlanticism. The simple, bare acoustics of “Hold No Guns” also calls back to their indie beginnings. Though before it's assumed that old steps are just being retraced, the near-funk track “Good Help (Is So Hard to Find),” challenges expectations of the band's sound.

On the other hand, with its upbeat melodies buoying angst-filled verses, Kintsugi provides a familiar view of Death Cab for Cutie. The music's shifted its shape a little, but Gibbard is still penning his way through a melancholic drive down the California coast.

  • Album: Kintsugi
  • Artist: Death Cab for Cutie
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Songs: (1) No Room in Frame (2) Black Sun (3) The Ghosts of Beverly Drive (4) Little Wanderer (5) You've Haunted Me All My Life (6) Hold No Guns (7) Everything's a Ceiling (8) Good Help (Is So Hard to Find) (9) El Dorado (10) Ingénue (11) Binary Sea

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