Sound — 10
This album is certainly the best of the year, in my opinion. Death Cab never ceases to amaze. Parts of the album were experimental, but the band never deviates from the sound that makes them so great. The keyboard on "What Sarah Said" and "Brothers On A Hotel Bed" the organ on "Marching Bands Of Manhattan," and the mandolin intro on "Soul Meets Body" are all highlights. "Different Names For The Same Thing" is the most experimental track, and the second half of it can probably be chalked up to Ben's time recording the Postal Service album. Ben's melodies are infectious, especially in the chorus for "Soul Meets Body." The drum beats and basslines are tasteful, the guitar work is great as usual, and the piano is fantastic. There is a lot more acoustic guitar on this album, which could've easily been a disaster. However, Death Cab effortlessly avoids that disaster, and produces a great album. Chris Walla could very well be the best producer out there today.
Lyrics — 9
Ben Gibbard is possibly the best lyricist out there today, possibly second only to Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes). He's no Bob Dylan (then again, no one is), but his lyrics have always been one of the things that puts Death Cab over the top. On this album, he gets a little cheesier than he has been in the past, but songs like "Crooked Teeth" and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" easily compensate. One thing Ben Gibbard will never lose is his ability to write amazing lyrics.
Overall Impression — 10
The jump from indie label to major label is, usually, a huge problem for bands like Death Cab. Most artists go downhill when they get signed to a major label, but Death Cab didn't let that happen. They didn't compromise their sound and become more "radio friendly." No one has pulled off the jump to major label like Death Cab for Cutie has, and it will be interesting to see what else they can produce from here on out. Top tracks: Crooked Teeth, What Sarah Said, Brothers On A Hotel Bed. Worst tracks: Stable Song (but even that is a good song).