Thank You For Today, Death Cab For Cutie‘s ninth studio album delivers on the kind of emotional catharsis the Bellingham, Washington natives are now famous for. Though the album’s lead single, “Gold Rush,” tackles the complexities of the gentrification of Seattle, the rest of the songs paint a picture of personal lows and highs, equal parts rueful desolation and heartwarming nostalgia.
Opening track “I Dreamt We Spoke Again” is as wistful and devastating as the title implies; the tight-focus atmospherics of “Summer Years” give the track a sense of poignancy. “When We Drive” is a passionate plea for companionship. Even when Gibbard tries his hand at harshness, the tender melodies soften the blow (Witness “Your Hurricane,” where he sings, “You try to explain / Who’s at fault for your mistakes / I won’t be the debris / In your hurricane.”)
Album closer “60 & Punk” reinforces Gibbard’s masterful use of imagery. The track, which is full of gently dissonant peaks and valleys, is an interrogation of a musician who has fallen from grace. When Gibbard sings, “There’s nothing elegant in being a drunk / It’s nothing righteous being 60 and punk / But when you’re looking in the mirror do you see/ That kid that you used to be?,” it’s clear that he’s alarmed by both what that person has become—and how easily that fate could have been his own.