Death Cab For Cutie "Kintsugi"

“Kintsugi” is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a mixture that includes gold, silver, or platinum. This process not only adds value to the broken object, it treats the flaw as an important part of the object’s history. It’s a fitting metaphor for broken hearts, for where we break we grow stronger. That theme imbues the the language and emotions of Death Cab For Cutie’s eight album.  

As the band gathered to begin work on the follow up to 2011’s Codes and Keys guitarist/songwriter Chris Walla, who produced all of the band’s earlier albums, announced that he would be leaving the group. Walla finished the album but production duties fell to Rich Costey, who has worked with musicians of the intelligentsia, including Sigur Ros, TV on the Radio, and Fiona Apple. Although the band’s music remains constant with their past efforts, the production moves toward more synth-electronic elements, sometimes taking on ‘80s pop-production, aka, The Cure or Depeche Mode. Benjamin Gibbard’s lyrics continue to plumb the emotional depths of broken relationships and damaged lives.

Kintsugi is the first album since Gibbard’s much publicized divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. That experience seems to inform his lyrics. In “No Room in the Frame” he sings “Was I in your way when the cameras turned to face you?/No room in frame for two.” But assuming Gibbard’s songs are only about his personal experiences would be a simplification of his complex explorations of the human psyche. He captures the essence of human experience, from the glorious to inane, the triumphant to the disappointment. Kintsugi is an apt expression of the adage “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” and more interesting and valuable.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)

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