on November 5, 2003
"I'm waiting for another repeat; Another diet fed by crippling defeat."
"Death Cab for Cutie", a band whose music is as unforgettable as its name, has truely hit the mark with this album. And while it may be somewhat of a repeat in style; its a sound far from being defeated, or drowned out.
That lyric, in the song 'Expo 86', shoots out of Ben Gibbards mouth with nothing but conviction and emotion, on Death Cabs newest and extraordinary record "Transatlanticism".
This record is wonderful, and should please fans of the band, and attract newcomers also. At times its honest, melodic, loud, soft, Sad, surreal, emotional....and sometimes all in the same song.
The songs range from confessionals: "Tiny Vessels"(confessions of a bad relationship)"Title and Registration"(A picture in a glove compartment brings back memories of regret); to character studies: "Death of an Interior Decorator"; and songs about ageing, the passing of time, and memories: "The New Year", "The Sound of Settling", "We Looked Like Giants".
This album seems to be a story about growing up, and about looking back at everything behind, and wondering about everything in front. Its a blissful masterwork by one of the best bands making music these days. Its truely a gem.
on October 13, 2003
As a die-hard DCfC fan, I've heard all their albums and this one, to me, seems the most coherent and complete. The themes run through each song seamlessly and, despite my heseitation at making a comparison, I consider this their best work yet.
Here are the tracks:
1. The New Year
3. Title and Registration
4. Expo '86
5. The Sound of Settling
6. Tiny Vessels
8. Passenger Seat
9. Death of an Interior Decorator
10. We Looked Like Giants
11. A Lack of Color
Now, this will come as a surprise to those of you who know me well, but while the lyrics are amazing, what first caught my ear with this album is the elegance of the sounds. It both starts and ends with what sounds like the noise a computer makes when it's running (the hum), giving it a sense of unity. I think that someone listening to a vocal-stripped version of this album could still tell it's DCfC, but there's a sense of greater freedom and distance from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes or The Photo Album. When I listen to "The New Year," I get a sense of opening up, where much of We Have the Facts . . . appears closed-off. As suggested in "The Sound of Settling" (track 5), this album proclaims "if you've got an impulse, let it out," clearly and with joy.
On to individual songs. My favorites are "The New Year" (track 1), "Transatlanticism" (track 7), and "A Lack of Color" (track 11). "The New Year" and "Transatlanticism" present two different but convergent views of distance. "The New Year" suggests a solely physical difference, claiming if "the world was flat like the old days . . . there'd be no distance that could hold us back," while distance in "Transatlanticism" appears predominantly emotional. A rift--the Atlantic ocean--isolates the song's narrator from the rest of the world, "making islands where no island should go (oh no)." The point of "The New Year" is that distance can be overcome, while "Transatlanticism" bears the message that "the distance is quite simply much too far." The former has a progressive, moving beat, while the latter settles, resigned, into the simplicity of its percussive chords.
While the album is by no means "happy," its message is progressive. Though "there's a lack of color here," we are told not to worry, that "this is fact not fiction for the first time in years." All the album's elements converge in the final track--the unity, the "cycle [that] never ends" (as demonstrated by the identical sounds at the end of "A Lack of Color" and the beginning of "The New Year"), and "a reason to stay." We are, together with DCfC, facing reality, and part of facing reality is recognizing not only our failings, but our capabilities. Transatlanticism is capable of transcending great distances, and of driving beauty into the human heart.
on February 1, 2004
As always, let's just get a few things out of the way.
If you're a die-hard DCfC fan, stop reading, you will buy the album regardless of anything I (or anyone else, for that matter) has to say about it.
If you're an overblown emokid with a yen for the melodramatic, you should buy this CD. You may now stop reading.
If you're a radio lover that is interested in this CD because hey, that guy from the Postal Service is in it and that Such Great Heights song is so good and it was on MTV2 and wow!, stop reading and don't buy the CD. There's a 90% chance you'll hate half the tracks on this album, just like you hated half the tracks on Give Up when you downloaded them all.
If you're like me and you're vaguely familiar with DCfC's previous work and you liked what you heard, by the album - it's quite good and although it's differently shaped than, say, The Photo Album, it's still an album that feels death cab from start to finish in both ben's lyrics and the instrumentation.
If you've never heard DCfC before, be warned: they're what the media monster has labeled as "emo" (which groups them unfairly with groups like Dashboard Confessional) because their lyrics have a personal draw toward experiences as opposed to the widely generic feel of most other music today. Transatlanticism in particular deals with relationships (and, as the name suggests, long distance relationships), and if you have (and of course you have!) experienced a relationship that ended, you'll find at least one line that calls out to you and says "Hey, I wrote lyrics for all the stuff you're feeling inside, and then I put chords to those lyrics that accentuate that feeling." Buy the CD.
on July 31, 2004
This is the first Death Cab For Cutie album I have ever bought, and I must say its everything I wanted it to be and then some. For those of you who are just browsing this review and don't know much about the band, I urge you to check them out. This album is relaxing and poetic, brilliant and easy to the ear. I would have to say the standouts are:
The New Year-Opens the Album Perfectly, I could swear I had heard this song somewhere before I bought the album.
Title and Registration- Great Lyrics and I must say a great title to the song, will have you thinking.
Expo '86-One of the smoothest songs on the album, it has a great beat.
The Sound Of Settling- It's the only song I knew before I bought the album, it's short but very catchy, I love it.
Tiny Vessels-Lyrics I think a lot of people can relate to, just put together nicely.
Tranatlantism-This is in my opinion the best song on the album, a huge buildup with some great lyrics. I think its simply incredible.
A Lack of Color-Great acoustic to end the album, this song is beautiful.
As you can see I think that there are many standouts, I love the whole album even if every song doesn't stand out to me. If you enjoy bands like The Shins or Modest Mouse, I think you will dig Death Cab For Cutie.
For an album that is perfect for all types of places, moods, and people, I award with five stars.
on April 22, 2006
I'll be 50 next year and grew up with the Beatles, Stones, The Who, Zep and all those great prog rock bands of the 70s and punk and metal, the New Wave of the early 80s, Skinny Puppy and the Electronica movement, all the way to the present. Jazz classical you name it. And this is by far one of the best recordings ever. It ranks up there with those very few contemporary recordings such as Radiohead's "OK Computer" that are just exceptional. Finally a songwriter that gets the honesty of relationships and lost love without the cheese. And the music connects to the unified field. There is still great music being composed and Gibbard, Walla and Co. are making it happen.
on January 7, 2005
Well, this isn't a review by a child. This album has touched me, helped me, inspired me, moved me. This is by far the finest piece of lyrical and extreme musical genius i have come across in years. Get this and you will not be disappointed.
1.The New Year: upbeat, but not repulsively happy. a real attention grabber. 5/5
2.Lightness: not the most fabulous song on the album, but very honest and clear. 4/5
3.Title and Registration: one of the best songs I've heard in a long time. The music's addictive. The lyrics are brilliant, going from a whimsical commentary on how the glove compartment really shoudn't be called that and moving on smoothly and elegantly to speak of a past rediscovered where gloves should be found. wow. 6/5
4.Expo '86: upbeat tempo, with rather melancholy lyric. it's great. 4.5/5
5.The lyrics are incredible, but the music just isn't all that compelling. still good though. 4/5
6.Tiny Vessels: true, honest, revealing, calming, this is beautiful. 5/5
7.Transatlanticism: clearly one of the most amazing songs ever. 8 minutes sounds like a long song, but you can absoluely lose yourself in its hauntingly gorgeous melody. This is ingenious. 6/5
8.Passenger Seat: it's such a simple song, baisically just piano and ben singing, but it's incredible. you can just feel each refreshed and calm breath the song holds. 5/5
9.Death of an Interior Decorator: a fine song, just not my thing really. it's different from the rest of the album. don't relaly have that much of a view on it.
10.We Looked like Giants: this is where they really rock out. a lot of emotion, not too much though. so good! 6/5
11.A lack of Color: pretty much the best closing song this album could possibly have. there is an element of straight forward honesty never before reached. 5.5/6
I believe this album is one of the finest ever, and am blown away.
Death Cab for Cutie....can they do no wrong? I don't believe so.
on August 5, 2007
This is one of those bands I'd heard of for awhile (catchy band name), and a buddy of mine just turned me on to this disc and PLANS about a month ago, along with 2 of their bootleg concerts. I'm impressed. PLANS has been in my car CD player for a few weeks now, and this one has been in my bedside CD radio, which makes for pleasant waking up in the morning. As the guy from San Francisco mentioned in his Aprill 22, 2006 review, I'm also in my 50's and have loved most contemporary rock from the mid-60's up to today. If this is truly an "emo" band (which comes off as kind of a derogatory term), then sign me up. I like this one a little better than PLANS and won't go into individual reviews of each song (all of which I like), but for me the high point of the disc is the title track. The way the song starts out on a low-key narration and builds to its astounding climax with the chorus of "I need you so much closer/So come on..." just blows me away. Beautiful. I hope to have the good fortune of seeing these guys in concert soon. If you haven't heard their stuff yet and are considering it, I couldn't recommend this CD more as a primer.
on December 10, 2003
The brilliance of this album's music and lyrics have already been well documented, so this review will focus mainly on the SACD. First off, though sometimes I wish stereo SACD's had a 5.1 layer, I don't feel like I'm missing anything with this stereo SACD mix. There's so much presence in the recording it really fills the room despite being only stereo. And the louder I play it, the more beautiful the music gets. I love how the effects blend so well with the music. When I play the CD layer of this disc I find myself focusing on the melodies and the lyrics, but when I play the SACD I find myself mesmerized by the beauty and the power of the music.
on December 30, 2004
Nowdays you rarely see a album you can listen to straight through and afterwards want to listen to it again. That combines thought-provoking, beautiful, memoriable lyrics with real music created on instruments that flows perfectly in a cycle. Truely great album that deserves to be bought. Tracks 1, 3, 6, and 7 I like the best, but all the songs are perfect in ever way. You can't really skip over any of them without feeling like you forgot something.
on February 20, 2015
Similar to the seeming minority, this album skips like crazy. There must be a production issue or a faulty batch because I can't get through a whole song without it jumping ahead... Very frustrated as this is one of my very favorite albums, not just from Death Cab.
Update: Amazon's promptly delivered replacement is skipping as well. I'm not sure there is a solution here as another reviewer's coin solution is a no-go for me. Again, very disappointed and hope someone will own up to the fault and fix it.