Stay young, go listening


From the first haunting note to the last sound of the piano, “Codes and Keys” will be that one CD to stay in your car stereo for weeks.
Washington-based indie-pop band Death Cab for Cutie has churned out a masterpiece — one that’s sure to rival the success of its first widely known album, “Transatlanticsm,” released in 2003.
The album starts out slowly and quietly, but lead singer Ben Gibbard lets his listeners have it — vocally, that is — with “You Are A Tourist” and “Underneath the Sycamore.”
While those two tracks may be the more upbeat songs of the album, the lyrics are just as enchanting as the rest. Powerful, melodic and thought-provoking music and lyrics that one cannot help but and ponder fill the entire album.
Death Cab for Cutie has the reputation of writing songs that express some sort of unrequited love or delve into the meaning of love lost. This album lives up to that reputation and has further sealed the band’s fate of being the soundtrack for adolescent break-ups.
With lyrics such as “Some boys don’t know how to love” and “The codes and keys/ They can’t protect you/ From the pains of jealousy,” you are instantly transported through your own memories and lose yourself in a silent reverie.
And with the power only Death Cab for Cutie possesses, you are pulled through a lifetime of love, jealousy, joy and heartbreak, and you somehow make it to the end wanting more — wanting the songs to reveal something you didn’t even know you knew.
Every track on “Codes and Keys” forces you to experience some sort of emotion —whether it’s frustration, hope, sadness, love or loneliness — and it is addictive. This will be the album you inadvertently memorize because you put it on repeat for a road trip.
The entire album seems like deja-vu because you have experienced everything Gibbard sings about. “If you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born/ Then it’s time to go/ And you find your destination with so many places to call home/ ‘Cause when you find yourself a villain/ In the story you have written/ It’s plain to see/ That sometimes the best intentions/ Are in need of redemptions.”
It is this power of songwriting and melody-making that has kept Death Cab for Cutie in all of our hearts and minds since 1998 when it released its first album.
While “Codes and Keys” may be its newest album release, it’s clear the band is returning to its old sound, best heard in “Plans.” Death Cab for Cutie is always reinventing its music, but for the listeners, it’s refreshing to hear a band that was changing its musical ways return to the original sound we loved so much.