What a pretty little sad surf-rock song this is, one of my fastest favorites on “Kintsugi.”

My high hopes for this new Death Cab for Cutie album, I’ll admit, were a little too high. I’ve gone back to it once or twice loving the colors and the tones, but I can’t put this on par with “Plans,” or even “Narrow Stairs.” The album, for me, starts strong and has some really beautiful sentiments and the kind of thoughtful takes I expect from this band – as well as musically cool moments – but I’m  not sure if it presents a new landscape or treads new territory, as past albums accomplished. I hope this takeaway fades and changes in time, I hope some day on some drive the whole thing just clicks into place for me, but I’m not there yet….that said, who in the the pop-indie realm these days writes better songs than Ben Gibbard? That said, this is so far one of the most solid, clear-eyed and composed albums of the year, from one of the most reliable bands of the decade.

I like the guitar tones on this entire album, they’re just-so resonant, just-so round and occasionally a little groovy in a 90s radio rock sort of way. The subtle digital manipulations,like on “Black Sun,” are a modern touch, the piano work is both expected and refreshing. Gibbard’s voice here is as mature and sure of itself as I’ve ever heard it, owing its presence to the song and its melody instead of simply delivering his words in his way. This, I think, is a learned skill. Lyrically, he is still a sad sack of hipster, the OG of the genre, as it were, and I can not, will not, get enough. His perspective switches from the internal to the wide-angle track by track, it seems, even verse-by-verse, and this is how he has written as far back on “Something About Airplanes.” But their is obvious maturity, and it’s not just in giving up the raspy falsetto, it’s also in in the reflection.

Can we pinpoint when this band became so good with hooks? Maybe they always were, but I never thought of them as writing chorus-driven songs and that is what this album is full of. Is this regression, or progress or songwriting? Regardless, I like this one from “Little Wanderer” in particular, it’s so melodic for a sad little song. I like how this song This song hangs tight in the present, it wistfully dwells on the past, it longs for the future. Also, I am sucker for any airport reference (and not just because my new line of work involves understanding them, but because of those feelings of love and hope and solitary contentment they can provide).

Yesterday I leaned Death Cab will be in town in September, and I’d be foolish to not try to make that happen. My slightly  dashed hopes on the record from won’t keep me from feeling optimistic that this could be, would be, should be a show to remember. I’d rather have something to look forward to, than go in thinking this band I’ve held in high regard for so, so many years would disappoint me with their seasoned performance. From what I understand, they are pretty fucking fantastic. Do they still play “Transatlanticsm?” Oh well, even if not, I would not mind hearing this newest collection in its fullest form. Maybe by then, these songs will have gelled a little more with my ears and my mind, as I slowly detatch from the old assumptions of what a DCFC record is supposed to be. Maybe by then, I can begin to embrace and understand the one they’ve chosen to produce, and maybe, by then, I will have learned a little something about growth in the process.

“You sent a photo out your window of Tokyo
Told me you were doing fine
You said the cherry blossoms were blooming
And that I was on your mind
But I couldn’t make you out through the glitches
It’s how it always seems to go
So we say our goodbyes over messenger
As the network overloads
When the network overloads

You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Off across the sea
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Won’t you wander back to me
Back to me.

Always fall asleep when you’re waking
I count the hours on my hands
Doing the math to the time zone you’re at
Is an unseen part of the plan
But if you’ll be my bluebird returning
Then I’ll be your evergreen

Standing tall on your horizon
Guiding you home to me,
Guiding you home to me.

You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Off across the sea
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Won’t you wander back to me
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
How I wish that you could see
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
How I need you back with me
Back with me.

You sent a photo out your window of Paris
Of what you wish that I could see
But someone’s gotta be the lighthouse
And that someone’s gotta be me

And I hope your absence makes us grow fonder
I hope we always feel the same,
When our eyes meet past security, we embrace in the baggage claim,
When we kiss in the baggage claim.

You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Off across the sea.
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
Won’t you wander back to me,
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
How I wish that you could see.
You’re my wanderer, little wanderer
How I need you back with me,
Back with me “

~Little Wanderer,
Death Cab for Cutie, Kintsugi