Friday, April 26, 2019 
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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Death Cab For Cutie
The Photo Album

Death Cab For Cutie are an indie-rock quartet with a reputation for tightly structured pop songs. Their excellent The Photo Album avoids this legacy; at first listen, it sounds uncomfortably unlike the Death Cab For Cutie we thought we knew. Fans used to quick, catchy songs, as seen in last year's We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, will be surprised by the songwriting: the band never rushes — indeed, it sometimes waits — to reach the chorus. The Photo Album is evidence of a band that's maturing, slowing down and trying new things.

Trying new things doesn't mean tinkering with their sound. Death Cab For Cutie have earned a following for their guitar-based indie-pop with densely layered, refreshingly melodic songs. As the band matured, their songs became more sophisticated, more complex; adding to the sense that their sound was gaining weight, the music sounded loaded with tricks. Surprisingly, Death Cab's new songs are simple and refined, emotionally open and inspiring. The production sounds closer to the vocals and the instruments, and as a result the songs are more mobile and experimental, going to odd places and catching us unaware.

Lead singer Benjamin Gibbard is the album's keystone. His voice, an earnest falsetto, has been obscured on earlier albums; here, though, it's given open space to roam. When he sings "I don't mind the weather/ I've got scarves and caps and sweaters" on "Blacking Out the Friction," his voice has a buoyant confidence, without self-doubt or pity. "Why You'd Want to Live Here" is one of the album's best songs, its lashing rhythm section and unrestrained melody adding impact to Gibbard's invective on Los Angeles. When he sings, "We are not perfect but we should try," we're convinced.

Death Cab's previous releases are consistent: each has some perfect songs and some that fall short. None are bad, but even the strongest recordings sound like everyone was trying really hard to get them right. The new tracks are poignant and irreplaceable, as if the band walked into the studio with each song already composed, recorded the album in an unbroken marathon, and got out before they had any second thoughts. Snapshots in a photo album of a band in its prime.

by Rosecrans Baldwin

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