While I’m at it: Death Cab’s Codes and Keys

While I’m on a roll, I’ll also let you know that I’m not disappointed by the new Death Cab album, despite that they employ many of the same techniques in their new album that Bon Iver does.

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys album cover

There is a lot of reverb on the new album, and Ben Gibbard’s voice is pushed to the back quite significantly compared to their other releases. Codes and Keys is fairly heavily produced and mellow, despite the fact that the last we’d heard from Death Cab was the rocker “Meet Me on the Equinox” single from that stupid vampire movie.

And this is not a bad thing.

Gibbard somehow seems to fit singing about relationships with heavy production much better than most singer/songwriters, after all, this is the same singer who went completely digital for the Postal Service. Codes and Keys isn’t Give Up, and it’s not heavily techno or anything, but that final spit shine production on Gibbard’s voice and on the album benefit Death Cab’s music far more than it hurts.

Their last major release, the Open Doors EP, was very dry and the recording of Ben Gibbard suffered. It exposed the weaknesses in Gibbard’s songs, which weren’t particularly strong, and expected his voice to carry the album, which I don’t think he was up to.

Codes and Keys, however, let’s Gibbard sit back into the music and let it wash over him and the listener, absorbing you into the music and helping you along in the musical journey.

It’s not Plans or Transatlanticism, it’s not Give Up, but it’s good.

New Bon Iver Album. Kinda sucks.

I know everyone is all ga ga over the new self-titled Bon Iver album, and it’s sacrilege to denounce the bearded paragon of hipster virtue, but honestly, it kinda sucks.

Bon Iver's Self Titled Album cover

For Emma, Forever Ago

What made their debut album For Emma, Forever Ago so good was the “I was locked away in a cabin for months alone and this is what I came out with”-vibe. Of course, that IS exactly what Justin Vernon did when he made it. It was earthy, it was sad, it was melancholy, and while it was a bit pretentious, it never looked at itself and said, “Gee, I am a cool record.”

“I am Bon Iver. I am a cool record. Love me. Did you notice the beard?”

Bon Iver’s eponymous album, however, is so self-aware that I never feel comfortable with its pretensions. When I hear much of this album, I go “oh no, not again with the reverb”. Too many effects, too many ‘verbs, too much autotune, too much production. I would go so far as to state that I think Justin Vernon was channeling his inner Peter Cetera on the ballad Beth/Rest, with the sweeping reverby guitar, the saxophone, and the heavy-handed electric piano. It’s like they hired the producer of Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”.

Please, put away the 80s

I want to hear Justin Vernon strumming his dirty guitar, bearing his soul into a dirty mic. I do NOT want to hear 1980s guitar solos rehashed with a lap steel in the background, Justin Vernon auto-tuned and soul-less. Listening to this album makes me tired and weary, wishing that they could just strip off the bull crap and let the songs shine through.

Watch these, and you will agree

Seriously, how can you compare this:

With this?

That last song sounds like REO Speedwagon!