The northwestern indie band is back with their ninth studio album, Thank You for Today, along with a highly anticipated fall tour stopping at Hard Rock Live in Orlando for its final set.
Thank You for Today is Death Cab for Cutie’s follow up to 2015’s Kintsugi, frontman Ben Gibbard’s recorded rumination of his hurtful divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. While Kintsugi stands as the reason why serious Death Cab fans have yet to watch New Girl, the band’s latest album shows Gibbard’s determination to embrace the sun’s rising on a new normal.
Thank You for Today sounds like a quickly-sketched road map for a mind learning to be present and reflect on the beauty of the now—moments of conscious wisdom bypassed by landscapes painted with questions and answers one faces in life after letting go.
Throughout the album, Gibbard ponders the unavoidable truth of reality after heartbreak, yet can’t help himself from enjoying the serenity of the moment, however temporary. He softly admits this thought in the track, “When We Drive,” as he sings, “I can’t expect you to be honest / Or to be faithful every day ’til the end / I just need you to be always a friend.”
With Gibbard’s newfound prudence comes a well-rounded maturity that was not yet in its full form in the band’s early years. In the album’s opening number, “I Dreamt We Spoke Again,” Gibbard unashamedly confesses that the memories of a painful past and dreams of what could have been will always linger, but these are far too transient to remain in the light of day.
The 42-year-old singer has always been the quiet voice of youthful angst, expressing the universality of romantic confusion while gaining underground legendary status with songs like “I Will Follow You into the Dark,” but 2018’s Gibbard manages to be refined without becoming re-defined.
On Thank You for Today, Gibbard and bandmates Nick Harmer, Jason McGerr, Dave Depper, and Zac Rae have harnessed their quintessential sound of friendly melancholy that echoes the light, moody appeal of Transatlanticism, even with the absence of founding guitarist Chris Walla, who exited the band in 2014.
Death Cab for Cutie continues to excel in the ability to couple Gibbard’s meaningful vocals with guitar-driven arrangements that tastefully emote, as always, the sonic adaptation of the band’s lyrical explorations.
The album’s first single, “Goldrush,” is perhaps the most timely of the tracks, with a radio-ready melody framed by words that are forever faithful to the heart of Death Cab. Still true to his sweetly-skeptic self after two decades, Gibbard confronts the discontent of the modern age. “Oh how I feel like a stranger here / Searching for something that’s disappeared,” he sadly remarks on one of the album’s thematic highlights.
Death Cab for Cutie’s Thank You for Today simultaneously seems like a penultimate album and a coming-of-age moment for a band that has grown up and grown on to become a timeless centerpiece of musical self-reflection.
Experience Death Cab for Cutie and the wistful wonder of Thank You for Today live in Orlando on October 23.