Death Cab for Cutie is an American alternative rock band formed in Bellingham, Washington in 1997. The band consists of Ben Gibbard (vocals, guitar, piano), Chris Walla (guitar, production, keyboards), Nick Harmer (bass) and Jason McGerr (drums). Death Cab for Cutie's music has been labeled as indie rock, indie pop, emo, and alternative rock, and is noted for its use of unconventional instruments as well as Gibbard's unique lyrical style. The group takes its name from a song by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band featured in The Beatles' 1967 film, Magical Mystery Tour.
Influenced by the album, Another Green World, by Brian Eno, Codes and Keys was recorded in eight different studios. The band would record in each studio for no longer than two weeks. During its recording, Gibbard stated: "It's not a guitar-based record. We've been into vintage keyboards and playing with that palette. We're not adding guitars because people will be expecting them. I'm so proud of this album that at this point I don't care if people don't like it." Guitarist and producer Chris Walla elaborated further, "guitar is great; its a really immediate, impulsive sort of instrument. But I think if we had strapped on guitars and gone into the studio with the intent of making a sort of live-ish sounding record, we definitely would've retreaded some of the territory that we were in for Narrow Stairs. None of us really wanted to do that, but it took us a little while to figure out how to do it differently."
Codes and Keys, their seventh studio album, was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 54th Grammy Awards. Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson gave the album a very positive review, writing "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." Jon Pareles of the New York Times also gave the album a positive review, calling Codes and Keys a better album than the band's previous album Narrow Stairs. Pareles concluded his review with: "This album doesnt try to rejuvenate Death Cab for Cutie by reverting to the sound the band had in the late 1990s. Now, its a band of grown-ups still eager to evolve." BBC's Ian Winwood called the album "an understated and subtly magnificent pleasure."
"Codes and Keys still sounds like a Death Cab album, but the guys explore the benefits of the recording studio more than ever before, boosting Jason McGerrs drums with bits of programmed percussion and scaling back their guitar riffs to sparse, articulate clumps of notes that ring out into the ether. Theres a new-found emphasis on open space, on electronics, on Kid A-inspired webs of feedback and distortion that are draped behind the songs like ambient backdrops." - Andrew Leahey, allmusic.com
"...[A]t core, these are resplendent songs, the sound of a sad-sack acquiescing that life might be pretty awesome after all." - Will Hermes, Rolling Stone
180 Gram Double LP
Benjamin Gibbard, lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards
Nicholas Harmer, bass, guitar
Jason McGerr, drums, percussion
Chris Walla, guitar, backing vocals, piano, keyboards
1. Home Is A Fire
2. Codes And Keys
3. Some Boys
4. Doors Unlocked and Open
5. You Are A Tourist
6. Unobstructed Views
7. Monday Morning
8. Portable Television
9. Underneath the Sycamore
10. St. Peter's Cathedral
11. Stay Young, Go Dancing