Death Cab for Cutie

Kintsugi (Atlantic)

Phases & Stages

The 2012 divorce of Ben Gibbard and She & Him's Zooey Deschanel, plus the late-game departure of band lieutenant Chris Walla makes Kintsugi a breakup album. The Washington Staters' eighth LP delivers, too, even if it isn't 2003's weeping Transatlanticism or the barbed repression of 2000's We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes. Shellacked, arena-worthy, and self-referential, fleeting moments still key in on the gut-check lyricism that inscribed Gibbard into the hearts of millennials. Walla's lavish production lends opener "No Room in Frame" an electronic transcendence, climbing high before descending into an epic pop chorus that Death Cab for Cutie all but coined ("Was I in your way/ When the cameras turned to face you?/ No room in frame for two?"). The pointed, persistent riff of "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive" steers it past blooms of electric piano flourish and Gibbard's cool existential self-questioning. Instant palatability. The acoustic "Hold No Guns" and yawning dirge "You've Haunted Me All My Life" spin austere – dramatic – but ring flat. Even so, Death Cab for Cutie's breakup ballads remain anthemic and radio-ready. (DCFC's ACL Live at the Moody Theater performance Sept. 21 is sold out; tickets still available for Sept. 22.)

***

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