Death Cab for Cutie's eighth full-length album, 2015's Kintsugi, finds the group sliding further into the studio smoothness that marked 2011's Codes and Keys. Produced by Rich Costey -- best-known for his work with Kimbra, Mew, Muse, Interpol, and Chvrches -- Kintsugi is also the last album Death Cab recorded with co-founding member Chris Walla, who announced he was leaving the band during the recording process. Sentiment has always been lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard's calling card, but as he starts to stare down the corridor to 40, he seems comfortable with leaving that open heart unadorned -- or, better still, gussied up in a coat of studio shellac. Although there are fragile solo numbers dotted throughout the album, most of Kintsugi shimmers upon a gloss constructed out of new wave remnants and faded memories of yacht rock. Conceivably, Gibbard's intent hews toward the latter -- such clean disco-rock diversions as "Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)" and the galloping collegiate rock echoes of "El Dorado" show a yen for art -- but his open heart nudges Kintsugi toward new millennial soft rock. This is a feature, not a bug. Gibbard has a gentle touch so having cushy, sugary melodies mirrored by a production equally as supple feels like a marriage of intent and sound.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine