Album reviews: Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today; Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef

 

Death Cab For Cutie, Thank You For Today

★★★★☆

Death Cab For Cutie: the little Seattle indie rock band that could. With just a clutch of skittering beats, Ben Gibbard’s coffee-froth vocals, a knack for forlorn drama and an underground hit about looming death called “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” – ideal for use in ads for Dignitas – they’ve built a cult empire. They’ve inspired a generation of itchy alt-rock in Vampire Weekend, Foals and The Maccabees, mastered the electro offshoot first go in The Postal Service and, with ninth album Thank You For Today, come close to perfecting their unique recipe of lovelorn airiness and pop hooks as breezy as a naked skydive.

Death Cab’s signature adventurism drives space ballad “When We Drive”, “Gold Rush” – a Beck-pop lament on gentrification burying memories beneath its gold brick condos – and “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”, which summons The Cure, Eighties Fleetwood Mac and Lana Del Rey to help silence the ex haunting Gibbard’s dreams.

But they also rediscover their fundamental magic: bittersweet reflections like “You Moved Away” and “Summer Years” recapture the amorphous pop glories of 2008’s Narrow Stairs (with added dashes of Pet Shop Boy) while “Your Hurricane”, “Autumn Love” and “Northern Lights” recall the euphoric melodies of 2005’s breakthrough album Plans. There’s even another stark, Dignitas-friendly contemplation of mortality, “Sixties & Punk”. A benchmark DCFC record and, barring a surprise drop from The National, the most immersive alt-rock album you’ll hear all year.

 

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