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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisBack when Death Cab For Cutie was only known on the underground, its annual Chicago stomping grounds was the venerable Metro. Though the Washington indie rockers have since graduated to headlining arenas and festivals (including an August 25 area appearance at UIC Pavilion), this particular return to its roots served as a showcase for material from the forthcoming Codes and Keys (Atlantic), which hits streets May 31.
Now that Death Cab has longevity on its side, this seventh long player doesn't attempt to cater towards the radio faction of its fan base, nor is it a rethread of the group's now classic 2003 breakthrough album Transatlanticism (though it's by far this act's best album since then). Instead, it finds the foursome plotting a fresh course that takes a contemplative and cerebral tone across the group's most mature lyrical direction to date.
Even with the shoegazing nature of the new material, cuts like "Some Boys" and "Underneath the Sycamore" served as welcome set list additions, finding the group's already close chemistry clamping down even tighter. And there were certainly aggressive shades within the current collection, mainly "Doors Unlocked and Open," which provided balance to the chilling and sublime soundscapes of "You Are a Tourist" and "Portable Television."
Despite the purpose of this performance, Death Cab made sure to touch on its generally celebrated past, from the catchy (though unremarkable) commercial stylings of "Crooked Teeth" and "I Will Possess Your Heart" through some of the indie world's most treasured morsels like "The New Year" and "The Sound of Settling." Add in the sonically surging encore of "Transatlanticism," and this up close and personal evening served as more than just a warm up for the larger venues to come, but a reminder why Death Cab deserves to be there in the first place.
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