Atlantic Records

Death Cab For Cutie’s eighth studio album comes with a lot of baggage. Kintsugi was four years in the making, it’s the first album since lead singer Ben Gibbard’s infamous divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel and in the middle of its production, founding member, lead guitarist and producer Chris Walla announced he was quitting the band.

It’s hard not to hear these influences in the songs of Kintsugi, and that’s not a bad thing as it gives context to an album that, otherwise, would not be especially distinguishable from Death Cab For Cutie’s other seven albums. Gibbard’s vocals float over the guitar-heavy ballads, expressing poetic sentiments of love lost. There are changes in pace every now and then, Hold No Guns is the compulsory quiet acoustic-guitar serenade, Good Help (Is So Hard To Find) with its funk bass shows that Daft Punk’s influence is still wide-reaching, and the album ends with Binary Sea full of solemn piano chords and a story about Atlas, the man who holds up the world.

The album’s name is a type of Japanese art where broken pottery is fixed with a gold mortar, imbuing the philosophy that breakages and repair shouldn’t be hidden but celebrated as part of an object’s history. As an album, Kintsugi is a solid, enjoyable Death Cab For Cutie album. But it’s with its back-story that it starts to become alive, as celebration of past losses, past places, retelling sorrowed experiences and embracing them as a history to commemorate.