Death Cab for Cutie has always been a pretty consistent band. They have never blown me out of the water, but I’ve never disliked their music, either. “Kintsugi” finds the band in a fairly deep part of their career, and it not only continues upon this consistency, but escalates it.
1. “No Room in Frame”
The album kicks off with a smooth groove. This tracks flows beautifully from beginning to end, showing off the band’s mellow side to an extreme. I found myself engulfed into this track, deeply concentrating on each beat and chorus. This is how you open an album.
2. “Black Sun”
The band continues its mellow escapade with “Black Sun”. The track has a repetitive feel throughout, but not in a negative way. It keeps a steady atmosphere and eventually picks up the pace to a steady rock beat. I did feel myself getting a little bored by the end, but overall I enjoyed this track.
3. “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive”
With a breath of fresh air, the band kicks into high gear. There is a strange sort of beauty to this track. Its strength is in the instrumentals, which conflict with the electronic elements in a gorgeous way. There seems to be a sure sense of mood in this album thus far, and it is working well.
4. “Little Wanderer”
This track is a little back and forth for me. I absolutely adore the chorus here. Ben’s vocals sound angelic and add a beautiful element to this arrangement. Unfortunately, the remainder of the track is a bit dull. The instrumental work sounds repetitive and uninspired. It’s a shame, because this track had potential.
5. “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life”
Up to this point, the mellow feel of this record has been positive, but here, that changes. This track just doesn’t add much. The album needs a high dosage of energy to remain interesting, but instead we are given another slow track. Stand alone, this track is basic in most elements: slow acoustics and crooning vocals. In context with the album though, it just feels like another dull tune.
6. “Hold No Guns”
At this point, I am getting sleepy. The album, as mentioned before, needs a serious kick in the butt. I am all for a good acoustic track, but there is simply too much slow pacing here. The track itself is pretty, strutting the normal acoustic guitar and vocals from before. I just am finding no pleasure listening to this over and over.
7. “Everything’s a Ceiling”
Whoa, am I in the 80s? Jokes aside, the album finally gets the song it’s been craving. This track is fun and high paced, sporting a nice 80s vibe that’s a straight blast from the past (no, I wasn’t kidding). Just when I was starting to lose hope, the album turns it back around.
8. “Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)
The band shines so bright when it’s not being too serious. This track is upbeat and quirky, which is a nice thing to hear on a quite down-to-earth record. The drum patterns used in the chorus add a twist of funk to the mix, and overall the track feels light and at ease.
9. “El Dorado”
I’m fairly indifferent to this track. It just has nothing special to boast. The vocals and instrumentals sound good, but not amazing in any light. I was looking for that little kick that most songs have to push it over the edge, but it wasn’t found.
This track is genuinely interesting. The eerie chant used throughout is creepy, but beautiful. The high point here is the instrumental shift from a slow paced beat to a steady rock groove. It gave the track a new sense of life and ends up being the redeeming quality. This is a great track.
11. “Binary Sea”
Though I’ve given the album hell for being a bit too slow at times, this is a great way to close it out. It’s slow, sure, but I didn’t feel underwhelmed at any point. There is a fantastic simplicity to this track that certainly adds to the album rather than detracts. The piano coupled with harmonizing vocals comes together to make a much deserving conclusion to a beautiful record.
“No Room in Frame”
Death Cab for Cutie has created another consistent album that adds a bit of flare to the mix. The high points on the album are some of the highest I can remember in the bands recent discography. Though there are pacing issues and a few missteps, the band has proven they aren’t done yet. In fact, they have a long road ahead.