There are no stalkers or out-of-control brush fires on the latest by Death Cab for Cutie, immediately making it a more uplifting affair than 2008's Narrow Stairs. Instead, there's a soulful dude, voice often wrapped in echo, looking on the bright side. "When there's a burning in your heart," sings Ben Gibbard on "You Are a Tourist," the set's follow-your-bliss single, "let it grow." The positivity is hardly worry-free, and the arrangements, shaped by My Bloody Valentine mixologist Alan Moulder, add disorienting details (the dubby ghost vocals on "Doors Unlocked and Open") for those listening closely. But at core, these are resplendent songs, the sound of a sad-sack acquiescing that life might be pretty awesome after all.
Sample Songs from Codes and Keys: