DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - CODES AND KEYS
(Released May 31, 2011)
I've read the reviews on Codes and Keys and for the most part, it seemed like the public were sort of 'enh' in their response to this record - but I think that's because it's an album with layers that takes some precise digging and a bit of guesswork. In this day and age of spoon fed multimedia, DCFC has put out a record that truly makes the listener stick an ear to the speaker for a closer review and get lost in the cavalcade of sound.
(Yeah, yeah - Pitchfork didn't like it. They stabbed a snooty, self-applauding jab about Chris Walla citing Brian Eno as an influence. High-brow. Par for the Pitchfork course. Big deal. I'm tired of talking about them and I'm tired of the countless flippy-haired, 22 year olds who inundate that dreck-rag. I just felt like mentioning their feckless agenda one last time.)
As children, we have no problem losing ourselves in wonder and magic. We run and we play and then we run and play some more. To truly understand this album, it seems like Gibbard is telling us to take a step backward from our busy schedules and the monetization of our minds and to just accept the silly reality of who we really are. 'Home Is A Fire' starts with a bit of an echo dreamscape, in the sense that that the far-away keyboards and synths really paint a mental image of something startling and comforting at the same time:
'Sleep, Sleep with the lights on / Shutter the shades drawn
There's too many windows...
Home, Home is a fire / A burning reminder of where we belong, oh'
The memory kaleidoscope of imagery continues as the synth-heavy album ramps up in its delivery. The lock-step tempo of Doors Unlocked And Open throttles ahead without apology. The song deals with leaving the world of the fast-paced, non-fiction and swimming into a world beyond time. The line 'in the ocean of sound, we'll live in slow motion' repeats in a vocal-effect ridden chorus. The hit single 'You Are A Tourist' continues on that bent in a more adult-like fashion as the main guitar riff seems to motion the listener on an upward rocket-ride towards the stratosphere, telling us that we can always gain a new viewpoint if we feel constrained.
Fret not though, DCFC fans - you'll still hear plenty of token, bright guitar riffs, careening drumbeats and boyish Gibbard vocals. You'll just experience them in a totally different framework.
In essence, Codes And Keys is an album about the layers and grids that lie behind everything we do. Our understanding of time and existence, in the sense of home and family, is something that DCFC challenges on this record with an innocent, escapist view of a jaded universe. Gibbard, Walla and company have left their poppy roots and have put out something that truly takes a few brave listens to 'get'. You might have to leave your pop-ridden, adult mind behind - and you might just like what you see and hear.