• Record Label: Barsuk
  • Release Date: Jan 29, 2008

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Field Manual isn’t full of direct orders, it’s full of the emotions of someone who’s grappling with the realization that there are no longer any rules of engagement. [Winter 2008, p.85]
  2. 80
    Walla creates intricate, fugue-like patterns featuring guitars, analog synths and harmonies, enabling his spiralling melodies to unfold progressively while also providing a cushion for his diminultive but genuine vocals--making for a record that's taut and affecting. [Feb 2008, p.95]
  3. The results aren't exactly groundbreaking--but they'll provide a thoroughly pleasant way for Death Cab fans to while away the months until the full band's next CD drops in May. [15 Feb 2008, 67]
  4. 74
    It’s not bad--after all, the bands he works with are pretty good--it just might serve him well to forge his own path.
  5. He can certainly sing, but years of providing seamless harmonies for Gibbard have given his pipes a clear, breathy quality that threatens to lull the listener into a trance during the album's final stretch.
  6. His optimism is renewable and satisfying, and for it Field Manual is enjoyable overall.
  7. 70
    Aside from the awkwardly grungy 'The Score,' these are good songs well-played, with Walla handling everything except for drums.
  8. Ultimately this is an engaging pop album with lush sonics, like a guitar-heavy Death Cab album with a less than brilliant singer, which is not a bad thing at all, and should feed the need of fans of alluring, guitar-based indie-rock and keep DCFC fans contented until the release of their new album in May ‘08.
  9. Too often these songs sound like Death Cab B-sides, like the 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark'-mining 'A Bird Is A Song.'
  10. While at times angrier and more energetic than Death Cab for Cutie, many songs could be (and are) B-sides of "Plans" or "Transatlanticism."
  11. On the whole, Field Manual is a solid record.
  12. Obviously, a host of issues--from downtime to headlines--compelled Walla to make this record, and his effort shows. What's missing is a compelling reason to listen.
  13. Add Walla to the list of producers who should stay producers: Field Manual sounds great, but it isn't always worth listening to.
  14. It's nice Walla's doing his own thing, but it's also clear from Field Manual that in terms of his main band, credit has always been given where credit was due. [Mar 2008, p.141]
  15. 40
    Field Manual rests slight vocals atop memorable instrumentation, with surprisingly unshimmery production. [Feb 2008, p.98]
  16. Field Manual is, on the whole, pretty solid and the vocals, on the whole, are pretty terrible. In other words, the album sounds exactly like a solo record by a guitarist/producer.
  17. Aesthetically the album is an equally awful collection of pabulum, completely derelict in its offerings of arrangements and tones, sanded smooth of its personality and as derivative in its every moment as the bands it’s most derivative of.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 9 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Ryan
    Feb 8, 2008
    Sounds like it could be a Death Cab outtake album.
  2. JohnS.
    Feb 7, 2008
    I can't stop listening to this.