Death Cab for Cutie’s ‘Asphalt Meadows’ Pleases the Soul


Atlantic Records

Peter Philpott, Staff Writer

Death Cab for Cutie has been a very successful alternative rock band since 1997, and is still consistently quite active. Their most recent album, Asphalt Meadows, was released on Sept. 15, and I am a big fan. 

This album is signature Death Cab for Cutie, especially reminiscent of their 2004 album Plans. It makes sense how they create constant quality albums. They have an amazing formula, and they use different types of drums, guitars, and vocals to make each album return to that same sound. This time, Death Cab played around with the stereo to create an incredible listening experience, especially when listening with headphones. 

These are my favorites from the album.

“Roman Candles”

This song comes in hot right away with heavy drums and a strong guitar. It’s confident, it’s bold. The lyrics and the main guitar makes this the epitome of the album. Asphalt Meadows is a lot more influenced by hard rock than the mellow tunes of their past albums.

In the build up to the chorus, the song features a disorienting stereo mixup where the sound travels from ear to ear. It mixes up the song, it gives it a special watermark. The stereo art reminds of “Left and Right” by Charlie Puth, a fairly bland song that relies on heavy stereo specialization to make it unique. The way that “Roman Candles” starts rocky and and gets more harmonic in nature gives it a feeling of completion.

We all need a song that is perfect for a morning ride to school when you need a boost of energy. And with crushing drums and bouncy guitar, “Roman Candles” does more than get the job done.

While I do wish that the song was longer than 2:10, they do pack a quality melody into the short duration.

“Here to Forever”

This is the primary headline single track of the album. It does the job well and it reminds me of “Northern Lights,” the single from their last album, Thank You for Today. You might’ve heard this on the radio.

The song combines clever lyrics with a good bassline. Lead singer Ben Gibbard has a phenomenal voice that you can spot hitting high notes effortlessly without cracking

The problem with “Here to Forever” is that it’s unadventurous. When picking a single, Death Cab for Cutie seemed to have gone with the song that presented the least risk. It’s a good song, but I would love to see “I Don’t Know How I Survive” or “Asphalt Meadows” on the radio instead.


The acoustic guitar is crisp; it fades flawlessly into a distinct kick. This song caught me off guard. Its beginning is unfamiliar and very different from the other songs, but as the song progresses, you see it fall back into place.

The drums arrive at the exact right moment, the guitar stays steady for the entire ride, and the vocals are clean with perfect tone and volume. The piano is flawless, with perfect tune. It doesn’t try to overshadow the drums or synthesizer.

The melody evokes a satisfying feeling in the soul because of its major chords and clean bassline. “Pepper” is simply a wonderful listen.

Death Cab for Cutie is the perfect band. Longstanding, active, consistent; they never fail to deliver a quality album that uses their signature formula. While I don’t think it’s a flawless album, it’s an addition to Death Cab’s portfolio they definitely shouldn’t be ashamed of.