We’ve been fans of Death Cab for years – and they’re one of the loudest bands you’ll see live, despite the gentle songs – and at first play-through of this new one were a bit meh. Death Cab have a sound, they’ve gradually got poppier, and this is largely a pop album of easy-on-the-ear music.
But second play through we rebelled against instinct: so what if it’s Death Cab going through the motions in places? It’s still Death Cab, and they’re really good at what they do. Just enjoy it.
The album kicks off with I Don’t Know How I Survive, a strong song, opening with bass and clapping and sounding funky and clean before the band comes in with a wallop and we’re into quality Death Cab territory, Ben Gibbard’s distinctive vocals to the fore.
Roman Candles begins with distorted kick drum and bass and is part familiar, part a distorted synth song; either way it will be loud live. The title track is bang on Death Cab average, nothing killer but nothing to complain about, the music tight and some nice piano/keys.
As for Rand McNally – who else would name a song after a publisher of textbooks? The song is about calling a girlfriend from a payphone so presumably set back in college days.
Here to Forever resembles The Cure, opening with the memorable lines, “In every movie I watch from the 50s / There’s only one thought that swirls around my head now / And that’s that everyone there on the screen … they’re all dead now,” a sentiment we share when scanning in old negatives from 50 and 60 years ago. Musically, it’s ok but no more, but Death Cab coasting are still a pleasure, and they don’t coast for much of this.
Foxglove Through The Clearcut has spoken verses but big anthemic choruses and very noisy guitar, while I Miss Strangers is a faster tune, possibly about life in lockdown but maybe not. Another good chorus.
Closer I’ll Never Give Up On You reverts to more cliched Death Cab, with fat synth and solid but steady drums.
Maybe not a starting point for newbies (try Transatlanticism) but plenty for fans.