Bellingham, Washington's indie-turned-mainstream rockers Death Cab For Cutie is a band with nothing left to prove. It made great records right from the get-go that the indie rock and college crowds ate up. It all started with the raw and desolate rock of 1998's Something About Airplanes, but its profile truly rose with the next three records (on the Barsuk label), beginning with the dark but often summery rock of 2000's We Have The Facts... record (which is when this reviewer became a fan for life), 2001's The Photo Album and the nearly perfect and well-produced 2003 CD Transatlanticism.
There were some grumblings about DCFC's move to major label Atlantic Records two years later, and 2005's Plans was a bit of a step down from previous records. But, it contained the group's most popular hits to date, "Soul Meets Body" and the folkier hit "I Will Follow You Into The Dark."
The 2008 follow-up Narrow Stairs was a much more rounded and in some places, exotic record that contained dark, personal lyrics (according to singer Ben Gibbard) and starred "Cath," one of the best and most pure, guitar-centered tracks in the band's career. And not that number one records mean that much anymore, but the band proved it could top the Billboard charts and did just that with Narrow Stairs.
Thirteen years after record number one comes Codes And Keys, Death Cab's seventh and third for Atlantic. According to guitarist/back-up vocalist and well sought out producer Chris Walla, he, Gibbard and the band aimed to make this a more keyboard-centric record and less guitar-based one than anything they've ever recorded, and listed influences such as Brian Eno, New Order and David Bowie for this new direction.
Using recording software program Logic Pro, the band strives to create a new sound for itself by using a mix of modern and vintage-sounding technology. In some places, however, the new record does not truly abandon the guitar-bass-drums (and sometimes piano) attack it's always had.