Death Cab for Cutie

Transatlanticism (10th Anniversary Edition)

Barsuk

Nov 14, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


I don't know if anyone aside from Death Cab for Cutie completists was really demanding a deluxe reissue of Transatlanticism, but here we are with one anyway, having entered the era in which nearly every record gets a reissue for every milestone.

Transatlanticism was warmly received in 2003this publication called it "their best yet"and a decade on it stands as the band's high water mark (though 2001's The Photo Album remains criminally underrated). On the heels of Transatlanticism's success the band was signed to a major label, but each release since then has been a case of diminishing returns, Ben Gibbard and Co. having perfected their formula in 2003, but never again able to quite capture the same magic. It's also worth noting that Transatlanticism marked a solidification of the quartet's line-up, which had shifted over the course of the three preceding records.

Smartly, the reissue lets the album stand for itself, rather than tinkering with the mix or adding additional tracks. The meat hereand what most listeners will be interested inis the accompanying set of demo recordings that chart the songs' evolution from rough sketches into the fully formed album they became. Opener "The New Year" originally began life as what could charitably be called a Postal Service reject, while "The Sound of Settling" started out as a slower, more mournful number, without the rock beat that propels it forward in the final version. There are different lyrics throughout the demos as well, including "Title and Registration" and "Expo '86," where the album's bitterest lyric ("They're all basically the same/So I don't ask names anymore") is nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most surprising is how familiar the album's second half sounds in demo form, with tracks like "Passenger Seat," "Death of An Interior Decorator," and "A Lack of Color" nearly identical to their final versions. In the end the demos are a pleasant curiosity, but not anything that most listeners will return to multiple times. But they're an interesting glimpse into Death Cab's creative process. If nothing else, the reissue allows listeners an opportunity to revisit the band at their peak. (www.deathcabforcutie.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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