Alternative rock band Death Cab for Cutie released its next album on Aug. 17—the latest in three years—and it’s everything you’ve been waiting for. The name of the record, “Thank You for Today,” appears on the album cover in clear type over an image of blue sky and clouds. The album art is calming, a therapeutic break from the chaos that often seems to engulf the world.
“Thank You for Today” opens with a gorgeous ode to the past and the ghost of happy memories, “I Dreamt We Spoke Again.” The track is a bit ethereal and details the feelings of emptiness and blank thoughts. Frontman Ben Gibbard said in an interview with Consequence of Sound’s Kyle Meredith that it’s “an upbeat song with sad lyrics.” Gibbard cheekily added, “It’s the only thing we’re famous for.”
The lead single, “Gold Rush,” is another upbeat track. Using a sample of Yoko Ono’s 1972 “Mind Train,” Death Cab for Cutie produced a solid single centered around the changing atmosphere and social landscape of Gibbard’s “adopted hometown,” Seattle. The single definitely showcases the lyrical genius of Gibbard as he reminisces, “We kissed beneath the street lamp light outside our bar near the record store, that have been condos for a year and more.”
“When We Drive” is a slow-tempo ballad that describes the protagonist and his relationship with the person sitting shotgun. “Climb into the back seat and close your eyes, I’ve got the wheel,” Gibbard says. “And dream of all the places only we will find.” He goes on to explain that he “just needs a friend” until “the engine kicks and sputters” and the two roll off the road.
With gentle guitar and a beautiful melody, “Autumn Love” has the potential to be the theme song of autumn this year. The sixth song discusses self-liberation and freedom from the daily stresses of life, through oceanic references like, “lighthouse,” “tidal flow” and “capsize.” “Just leave me floating on the open ocean,” Gibbard sings. “And let the moonlight take me anywhere on a tidal flow.”
The album wraps up with “60 & Punk,” a slow ballad about someone struggling with addiction who let the protagonist down. The speaker’s feelings of abandonment and rejection are evident due to lines like “The curtain falls to applause and the band plays you off” and “He’s a superhero growing bored with no one to save anymore.” The speaker’s emotion towards the subject is almost overwhelming making this song easy to get lost in. “There’s nothing elegant in being a drunk,” sings Gibbard. “It’s nothing righteous being 60 and punk.”
“Thank You for Today” is by far one of the best Death Cab for Cutie albums ever produced. Gibbard’s confidence in the album and the band’s song is apparent thanks to the brevity of the record and the emotions it embodies. “Thank You for Today” solidifies Gibbard’s and the band’s expertise and utter certainty in their sound.