Released in August 2018, it has received mostly positive reviews from critics, Thank You for Today is American indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie’s ninth studio album after a two-year wait. The album features many of Death Cab’s usual reflective, storytelling lyrics but intertwines a fresh new sound, perhaps marking it as the band’s best album of the 2010s.
The first single and perhaps the album’s standout track, ‘Gold Rush’ was released in June. It is relatively upbeat, and lead singer Ben Gibbard’s voice has been altered to have an almost echoing sound. The song itself is about the band’s beloved town changing in form, buildings being modified and subsequently destroyed. The most striking lyricism here (‘Please don’t change/Stay the same’) is not only an appropriate reaction to the gentrification of Seattle, but is also a nostalgic plea for other things in life to stay the same. A seemingly cheerful tune tinged with nostalgia when you listen closely, this song perfectly reflects Death Cab’s style. It takes a few listens to realise the band’s vision, and what their lyrics are trying to convey – hopefully to, in some ways, apply it to your own life and the things you wish to remain as they are.
The album contains tracks that blend into the background, their meanings sometimes lost in lingering guitar riffs and Gibbard’s crooning voice
‘I Dreamt We Spoke Again’ is another of the earlier songs on the album. It’s clean and it’s simple, featuring both a gentle drum beat and a guitar riff. Ben Gibbard’s voice is mellow and soothing as he describes a dream he had about someone he hasn’t seen in a long time. As the title suggests, the song has a lethargic quality, much like many of the band’s songs.
Thank You for Today contains a number of tracks that blend into the background, their meanings sometimes lost in lingering guitar riffs and Gibbard’s crooning voice. They almost feel like fillers, produced for the sole purpose of completing the album, and don’t appear to add very much to the overall narrative. Others feel almost too experimental: the song ‘Near/Far’ should be cited in particular, as the electronic quality to its beat is unappealing and sounds far too upbeat to accurately reflect its unhappy lyrics. Some songs just don’t quite fit within Death Cab’s melancholic and comforting sonic formula.
You obtain more from the songs with every listen – the lyrics find more meaning and are more emotionally impactful
Like a lot of Death Cab’s musical repertoire, personal preference shapes how much you’ll like each song. There’s something for you, whether you take a liking to the band’s optimism, or you prefer the music to be stripped back to the bare minimum with a greater emphasis on lyrics that promote self-pity. If you prefer the latter, the song ‘When We Drive’ is perfection; it acts as a breather from the classic indie pop which the majority of Thank You embodies. The track is slow, and uses instruments minimally. It’s reflective and relaxing, again tinged with nostalgia for a time long gone. This song rather to listen to when you want to wind down after a long day, and serves as the perfect background noise. ‘You Moved Away’ similarly, adheres to this simplicity, detailing the tale of a friend moving away. Somehow, a uncomplicated story of someone packing up their life in a city by mopping the floors and checking the tyres on their car is tinted with sadness, but as a listener I can certainly feel Gibbard’s emotional heaviness and his thoughts for a lost friend as I reminisce about those I haven’t seen in a long while.
Overall, Thank You for Today adheres to Death Cab for Cutie’s indulgent melancholy. By listening, you can reflect on times in your life that fit specific songs; for all your various moods there is a song on the album. As with most of Death Cab’s previous albums, you obtain more from the songs with every listen – the lyrics find more meaning and are more emotionally impactful. It is safe to say this isn’t my favourite Death Cab album (that honour goes to Transatlanticism) but it is nevertheless an enjoyable listen with a few standout tracks that have potential to become Death Cab’s greatest.