Death Cab For Cutie “Asphalt Meadows” Album Review by Graham Finney

Back with the tenth album of their career, “Asphalt Meadows”, Seattle indie favourites Death Cab For Cutie have returned with a collection of songs which sees the band effortlessly blend gentle melodies and rough-edged indie/pop with honesty and vulnerability to create a peice of work which, post-lockdown, should push all of your emotional buttons if you’ve been invested in anything the band have put out prior to this.

Opener “I Don’t Know How I Survive” sets the mood for the album flitting between jangly pop and more fiesty indie outbursts while vocalist Ben Gibbard gently delivers his thoughtful, honest words. Hearing the frontman wax lyrical about how it’s “been a battle to wake and greet the day”, while those fans who have followed Gibbard and his life through lockdown will know how active he has been, he certainly creates the impression that the last two or so years haven’t been a bed of roses.

A wonderful storyteller, each track takes you on a journey through Gibbard’s world and it’s a world which, once full of routine and familiarity for most people, was turned completely on its head in 2020. The five members of Death Cab For Cutie were no different and, with that change in routine, came the chance to explore and expand what their sound was about. An album with many high points, “Rand McNally” being one of them, sees Gibbard at his storytelling best which, when wrapped around the soothing tones of the music, will have you lost in your own imagination.

Elsewhere, “Here To Forever” may have an infectious pulse but sees Gillard the songwriter taking a more honest approach to his lyrics as he reveals “these days are so hard to relax, you’ve got to hold a gun to my back to make me smile…”. Again, while there is a certain almost nostalgic feel to good portions of this album, moments like these jolt you out of that and into a space which seemingly hasn’t been a happy one for the frontman. Bringing up the rear of this heartfelt album is “Fragments of the Decade” is a track which probably underlines Death Cab For Cutie’s intention to expand their much-loved sound.

The album bows out with “I’ll Never Give Up On You”, a track which not only epitomises Gibbard’s honest and emotional approach to his songwriting, but provides this album with the perfect sign-off. An album full of familiarity, surprise and moments that take you into your own imagination, “Asphalt Meadows” is precisely the kind of return Death Cab For Cutie fans must have been wishing for.

To pick up your copy of the album, head over to the Official Death Cab For Cutie website

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