Death Cab for Cutie - Thank You for Today (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Death Cab for Cutie

Thank You for Today (2018)


Nine records in and Ben Gibbard's perspective has changed a lot. And right now, Death Cab For Cutie is the vehicle for him to voice this change in arguably his most exposed state. You can pick up how his tone has shifted somewhat, from sprawling storytelling to now more vulnerable pieces of poetry ripped straight from his journal. A bare-boned sound to address the turmoil and right now, the quiet in his life. And that's what Thank You for Today is about, gratitude that both he and the band have survived so much in life.

It's a well-written record and a true testament of the human spirit. His divorce, feeling 'lost' in his 40s, no longer having Chris Walla in the band etc all factor in here as we get a novel swirling with pain, loss, nostalgia and more so, recovery. The atmospheric sounds of "I Dreamt We Spoke Again" coupled with the synth beats as per tracks like "Summer Years" are examples of the band wanting to let go of the past and chart forth a new identity. Breaths of fresh air, if you will.

I'm not surprised because after I saw them in Riot Fest a while back, I could tell they wanted something different: something I admittedly found made them tame as they strayed a bit from "Follow You Into The Dark" territory but given how talented they are, it's a risk I'm willing to take. That said, you can tell here how much Gibbard wants to deal with optimism and hope, which I'm sure is better for his mental state. Take for example, "Your Hurricane," which you can tell his therapy for him, feeling like it's Sufjan Stevens meets The War on Drugs meets The National. As personal as it is though, the record makes bigger statements as seen with Gibbard chiding into gentrification on "Gold Rush" -- which honestly is just as much about reshaping the physical world as it is the mentality of society at present.

Nonetheless, minimalist tracks like "When We Drive", the beautiful slow-dance feel of "You Moved Away" are all wistful, soulful and endearing songs to compensate for the lack of fizz up front on the album. What makes these tracks pop is that despite the divorce, Gibbard doesn't hold back on love and sentiments of romance, made even punchier by the second half of the record sounding so dancey. Here, DCFC cut loose a bit and it's water they're better off swimming in my opinion. Hopefully, there's more energy moving forward but all in all, Thank You for Today is a record we should be thankful has blossomed into existence, especially on the heels of how relatable it can be.