Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"All of this is to say that Death Cab for Cutie has made its most enjoyable album. It’s not necessarily the group’s best, mind you, but the subtle soundscapes decorating the trademark melodies on songs such as “Portable Television,” “Home is a Fire,” and “Underneath the Sycamore” are in the end simply impossible to resist." -WBEZ
Rolling Stone (p.72) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese are resplendent songs, the sound of a sad-sack acquiescing that life might be pretty awesome after all."
Spin (p.98) - "Gibbard mostly dispenses with his trademark jitters, leaning into Death Cab's tuneful guitar-band thrum with a confidence that eventually sells CODES AND KEYS' moments of eager-beaver optimism."
Entertainment Weekly (p.111) - "The album's centerpiece, the breathtaking 'St. Peter's Cathedral, 'builds gradually on an echoing Eno-esque guitar and great waves of organ buzz..."
Alternative Press (p.108) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his quietly experimental album ends up being Death Cab For Cutie's great leap forward -- an achievement of pop formalism wrapped inside a beautiful cacophony."
CMJ - "This is Ben Gibbard's album....A neat production trick for CODES AND KEYS is employed on his voice -- it is moved back and forth in the mix repeatedly, creating a filter-like effect that combines with some of the best lyrics the band has written."
Billboard (p.52) - "[T]he subtle experimentation within the set provides a welcome new flavor....The standout cut 'Some Boys' manages to emit a darker, eerie vibe without any maudlin emo."
Paste (magazine) - "Throughout the back half of the album their trademark emotion, omnipresent throughout their oeuvre, seems self-assured, backed by a fuller and more confident sound."
Audio Mixer: Alan Moulder.
Recording information: Avast Recording, Seattle, WA; Bridge Street Recorders, North Hollywood, CA; Jackpot! Recording, Portland, OR; London Bridge, Seattle, WA; Sound City, Van Nuys, CA; The Warehouse, Vancouver, BC; Tiny Telephone, San Francisco, CA; Two Sticks Audio, Seattle, WA.
Photographers: Storey Elementary; Nick Harmer.
Released after a three-year lull -- the longest studio hiatus in Death Cab history -- Codes and Keys follows 2008's Narrow Stairs with a batch of pop songs that relies less on the guitar and more on atmospheric, melodic textures.