Ben Gibbard’s got it rough.
After his divorce with Zooey Deschanel, moving back to Seattle, and the departure of founding member Chris Walla, Gibbard’s approaching 40′s and distress are starting to really show in Death Cab For Cutie’s work. Named after a “kintsugi,” the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer, it assumes the philosophy of treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Aptly named, Gibbard is fixing the “cracks” in his life by treating it through his music, and not hiding it or ignoring it. This means that for people like Zooey Deschanel, they get a whole bunch of sad songs written about them.
Take album opener, “No Room in Frame,” where he seems to have moved on, though followed by, “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,” where he totally hasn’t. And it’s fine for Gibbard, music is a very therapeutic outlet, it might not be the most original story, but it’s incredibly personal. The only problem I have with the record is that it seems like Death Cab for Cutie is kinda done.
I was a fan of Codes & Keys, it was very well done, but Kintsugi is very cheesy, cliche, and nothing really came out at me as, “oh yeah I forgot how awesome Death Cab for Cutie were.” It was more like, “yeah this is music.” I don’t want to say that Gibbard’s written all the good material he’s gonna write in his career, because people can write great music their entire lives, look at Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Gibbard’s only 38 right now. All I wanna say about Gibbard is that Death Cab for Cutie can’t stay the same. If they don’t change their sound up, work on something different, or write something really substantial, we’re just going to get worse and worse Kintsugi’s for every new Death Cab album in the future. Nothing personal to Ben Gibbard, but not everyone’s 9th album of the same similar sounding music can hit as hard as the others did.
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