Codes and Keys - Death Cab for Cutie
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 44 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 44
  2. Negative: 3 out of 44

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  1. Jun 2, 2011
    This album is officially one of my favorite albums of the year and it is easily the best album death cab has put out since Trans. This writing is spot on, the instrumentation is crisp and Ben Gibbard's voice shines. This is a big step in the right direction after taking a couple steps backwards with narrow stairs. I highly recommend this album.
  2. Jun 2, 2011
    Although I do not think this is their best work, I definitely think this album should be accessible to Death Cab fans and beyond. "You Are a Tourist" is arguably a Top 10 Death Cab song of all time and they definitely were correct when they said the album is less guitar driven. What I really love about this band is their ability to continually make good albums. That being said, they peaked at Transatlanticism but have since released 3 solid listens of albums. This album is definitely worth checking out. Expand
  3. Jun 9, 2011
    A little better than Narrow Stairs; nowhere near as incredible as "Plans" ore "Transatlanticism" Has a better second half than a first. Sycamore, Dancing, Doors and Tourist are must-haves.
  4. Jun 30, 2011
    After Narrow Stairs, I was a tad worried, but only for about a minute. You could call it a return to form, but I think it should be noted it's change in direction. The band stated their main inspiration for this record was Brian Eno's Another Green World, which is noticed in the landscape and rhythm of the songs. Each song has it's place and there are no duds. Great for driving down the highway.
  5. Jun 5, 2011
    This is how Spoon's latest album should've gone down - they ended up rehashing their sound and although it was good it wasn't interesting enough to warrant another album for those ideas.
    Death Cab For Cutie however, have nailed it. Aside from a few tracks I don't care for (sycamore tree just sounds like another Death Cab song and is completely forgettable), it is really really good. Doors
    Unlocked and Open, You Are a Tourist, Codes and Keys and Unobstructed Views are some of my favourite Death Cab songs now. A perfect blend of their new sound and the old Collapse
  6. Aug 19, 2012
    This is a great record. It's the most complete Death Cab album to date. By most complete album, I mean everyone in the band has matured and it shows on this record. Each track is perfectly layered with Ben Gibbard's vocals, Chris Walla's sweeping piano, and the best drumming I've heard in a Death Cab record. The opener "Home Is A Fire" is the only track I find really unlistenable, but other than that one song, The other tracks are great. All In All, Death Cab For Cutie have a complete sound now. Anticipating their next release. B+ Expand
  7. Jun 4, 2011
    My number one fear was that this would be the worst Death Cab for Cutie album of their career. That fear was not realized this time around. If anything, it's one of their better albums. It doesn't quite match Transatlanticism or We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes greatness, however it is a remarkable record. It is grand, lush, and chalked full of some of the group's best material.
  8. Jun 2, 2011
    I'm sad that this new album by Death Cab have such a low scoreâ
  9. Jun 3, 2011
    An interesting album that pushes the band forward while giving some nods to their previous work. Overall, it's no Transatlanticism but it is just as good, or better, than Plans or Narrow Stairs. I liked both those albums but found them more uneven than Codes.
    "Home is a Fire" is a fresh track that breaks new ground for the band. "Doors Unlocked..." and "Unobstructed Views" continue the
    proggy sound that was started with "I Will Possess Your Heart". "Portable Television" is in the same Gibbard solo type folky category as "Talking Bird". "St. Peter's" and "Underneath the Sycamore" are strong tracks that remind me of "Transatlanticism" and "Marching Band" respectively. The most interesting track is "Monday Morning" which, with is use of synths, reminds me of their old one-off track "Tomorrow" from You Can Play These Songs With Chords. Because of all the different angles and experimentation, a sell-out this album is not. Expand
  10. Jun 4, 2011
    Surprisingly good album, after the total failure that was "Narrow Stairs". Death cab seem to be less cerebral on that one, yet more creative, or maybe it's just that the songs on here are just more catchy... However, some songs, like the title track, reminded me a lot of Arcade Fire's last album "The Suburbs", which isn't really a good thing...Still, Codes & keys is a solid album from a band I wasn't really expecting anything. Highlights includes "You are a tourist", "Doors unlocked & opened" and "Monday morning" ...all very good ones. Expand
  11. Aug 16, 2011
    After listening many, many times I have come to realise that this album is an absolute delight to listen to. Ben Gibbard has done it once again with his superb lyrics, and deep song-writing. I will go as far as saying that it's possibly their best album yet, and certainly their best album since Transatlanticism. What amazes me about this band is that they continue to be innovate: this album differs entirely to Narrow Stairs, Plans and Transatlanticism, and it has turned out to be remarkable. They may end up being remembered for this album. I am shocked that it was not received as well as it should have been by critics. Songs such "Some Boys", "You Are a Tourist" and "Doors Unlocked and Open" really do stand out on this record, as always, Gibbard choosing to end the album with a beautiful song "Stay Young, Go Dancing".. this is a sign of the wonderful talents still to come from this band. It's often a hard thing to create consistent albums, but Death Cab For Cutie have done it once again. This album is no exception from that. Expand
  12. Sep 15, 2011
    If you had to choose between having the Codes and Keys or the locked door, what would you choose? Are both equally important? It may depend of the situation: but in the new album of Death Cab for Cutie, evidently, the Codes and Keys are more important. Because just by hearing those melodies you realize that the band gave another step, and if in the previous album they were walking fearfully in their â Expand
  13. Sep 17, 2011
    Death Cab For Cutie's "evolution" has merely consisted of depression and angst turned joy and fairy dust. It's kind of annoying, and while the angst in their early records was still accompanied by a certain happiness and escapism, it also entailed the exploration of human emotion that could only be expressed through music. "Codes and Keys" is the same song on every track, the same emotion, the same little trick that needs a shake-up from repetition. Expand
  14. Oct 31, 2011
    The major departure for Seattle Alt. rockers might be surprising for previous fans, but it is an agreeable opinion that the album is a great one. The softcore rock can appeal to most everyone, the love baldas well done with unique ways of creating sounds. Especially on tracks like "Codes and Keys" and "Home is a Fire", where sounds like toy keyboards and echoey voices play up the emotionally charged lyrics. It's a well done and heartfelt album that is as powerful as it is catchy, something that can't be said for most. Expand
  15. Oct 23, 2011
    This is just the best songwriting Ben Gibbard has ever done, gorgeously produced and performed. Only someone attached to his previous darker themes could fault this lighter and more creative direction that "Death Cab" has taken.
  16. Dec 15, 2012
    Codes and Keys is good it's just not as unique of a sound as Death Cab for Cutie has had on other albums. It's songs definitely run together. It's just not as good as the earlier albums. It's nice to listen to but every time I listen to it I think of how much better Transatlanticism, Plans and Narrow Stairs were.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Nov 29, 2011
    Keys and Codes, which inverts the title of Death Cab's last record, feels slapped together, which is disappointing when you consider the array of talent present.
  2. Jun 29, 2011
    Past Death Cab albums have found frontman Ben Gibbard penning youthful lyrics about the wariness and mystery of love, but now, the singer -- who recently married actress/musician Zooey Deschanel -- seems to finally be at peace with his strange, wonderful self.
  3. Jun 17, 2011
    Codes and Keys is littered with PDA for Gibbard's new celebrity wife Zooey Deschanel, but this especially garish monument to his muse would have been better placed on one of her She & Him album-wafers.