Codes And Keys Indie rock used to be about crafting shambling odes to slackerdom — and not caring much if the guitars were in tune. But music on… Codes And Keys Indie rock used to be about crafting shambling odes to slackerdom — and not caring much if the guitars were in tune. But music on… 2011-05-31 Death Cab For Cutie Indie Rock Atlantic
Music Review

Codes and Keys (2011)

Death Cab For Cutie | INDIEPENDENCE DAY Death Cab for Cutie
Image credit: Ryan Russell
INDIEPENDENCE DAY Death Cab for Cutie
EW's GRADE
A

Details Release Date: May 31, 2011; Lead Performance: Death Cab For Cutie; Genre: Indie Rock; Production: Atlantic

Indie rock used to be about crafting shambling odes to slackerdom — and not caring much if the guitars were in tune. But music on the fringes has grown increasingly gorgeous: intricately built bedroom symphonies from the likes of Fleet Foxes, the Shins, and Bon Iver.

Before them all, Death Cab for Cutie kick-started the prettiness revolution with 2003's Transatlanticism, their breakout fourth album. A major-label deal, mainstream acclaim, and a Hollywood marriage (frontman Ben Gibbard wed Zooey Deschanel in 2009) followed, but the Pacific Northwest natives steadily maintained their melancholy charms.

Codes and Keys, the band's seventh disc, eschews both the guitars and the rawness of 2008's Narrow Stairs in favor of heavily textured studio elements. As limited as that may sound, there is a gratifying sense of restlessness and motion running beneath it all. The album's centerpiece, the breathtaking ''St. Peter's Cathedral,'' builds gradually on an echoing Eno-esque guitar and great waves of organ buzz, allowing the lyric ''There's nothing past this'' to ascend from a sad-eyed statement on mortality to a glorious hands-in-the-air refrain. It's a reminder to the rest of the pretty-rock community that loveliness is worthless if there's no heart behind it, and Death Cab's beats stronger than most. A

Download These:
Muscular rocker Codes and Keys at Last.fm
Acoustic sing-along Stay Young, Go Dancing at Last.fm

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Originally posted May 25, 2011 Published in issue #1157-1158 Jun 03, 2011 Order article reprints