It seems like it was just yesterday that we here at Bollocks! were spending more time thinking about Death Cab for Cutie’s Codes and Keys than we were spending working on our actual jobs. Fortunately, none of our bosses read Bollocks!. Right?
Anyway, the reason I decided to spread this review out over two days (much like one might spread their favorite peanut butter on a piece of toast) was so I could share more of the survey answers that we came up with in trying to assess the worth of this here new Death Cab for Cutie album. You might recall that Justin’s survey answers were by far the most negative but, as he mentioned in an email, “Somebody has to be the bad guy, right?” Right, Justin. If I’ve learned anything in three years of doing Bollocks! it’s this: if you write your honest, unfiltered opinion on the internet long enough, eventually some fanboys will find you. And they will hate you. My advice to my two newest collaborators, no strangers to the vagaries of the internet themselves, is to let the hatred of the fanboys be as a sauce that you dribble over a particularly enticing mountain of mashed potatoes; let it feed you and fill you with calories that you will then burn writing your honest opinion of other things.
That’s enough of the fatherly advice. Let’s get back to our survey about Codes and Keys. It was harder than I’d like to admit coming up with questions that I thought might yield hilarious results, but one question I’m very proud to have put on the survey was “What kind of people do you think would have sex to Codes and Keys and what sort of sex do you imagine they’d have (i.e., ‘satisfactory,’ ‘unsatisfactory,’ ‘five minute missionary for purposes of reproduction only,’ ‘a parade’s worth of rusty trombones,’ etc.)?” The thing that I find very telling about the answers to this question is that, even for the two of us who liked the album, our answers pointed to either not very exciting sex or to sex where the music becomes irrelevant. Consider Zac’s answer and remember that he likes Codes and Keys the most out of all of us: “Things would be ridin’ along fine for about eight minutes, and then ‘Some Boys’ would kick in, and the couple would share an awkward laugh and try not to look at each other. The kind of couple that can salvage this moment is not the couple that is copulating to Codes and Keys. They turn away from each other and go to sleep.”
Justin’s answer is strongly indicative of his dim view of the record, but quite entertaining nonetheless: “The people who have sex to Codes and Keys are the same people who, five or six years ago, would have been downtown at a show or a bar instead of in bed at 9:30 on a Friday night having sex to alternative pop music. They are the type of people who primarily do it missionary style out of habit but when she arrhythmically rides him cowgirl style it rocks both their worlds and they feel like pornstars.”
Perhaps it was Justin’s depressing answer that led me to post the following disclaimer to my own response: “I’m not suggesting that I would fuck to this album. I’m not going to tell you what music to fuck to unless you’ve never fucked while Sam Cooke, My Morning Jacket, the Flaming Lips, or Curtis Mayfield were playing.”
As soon as I thought about Codes and Keys and fucking, I came up with a question about the kind of date a person might have with this album. Zac chose not to answer this question and I choose to believe it’s because of the graphic nature of his imagined evening with Codes and Keys. Justin’s answer was pretty depressing: “Codes and Keys comes over to my place, cooks me some soggy eggplant parmesan, and we finish off the night with some over-the-clothes groping on the couch while Num3ers plays on TV.”
I said Codes and Keys “painstakingly calls all of my friends to find out my likes and dislikes and then it shows up promptly at the appointed date time, wearing not too much cologne. We go to my favorite restaurant where I am greeted by a pint of my favorite ale. Afterwards, we go to a show at a non-Ticketmaster venue, probably the Troubadour in Santa Monica. If anything, I think Codes and Keys is trying a little too hard. But it’s charming. So I give it a quick kiss goodnight and try to decide if I’m ready to settle down with it or if I want to fuck around with the bad boys for a few more years.”
In Fight Club (if I’m reading the current trends correctly, Fight Club is due for a gritty reboot ’round about next summer. It will probably feature Zac Efron cornholing himself with a 9mm), Brad Pitt’s character says, “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?” So I put that question to my survey-taking staff – has Codes and Keys ever even been in a fight and if so, did it win? Justin saw the album in dubious battle with a somewhat surprising foe: “Codes and Keys was once in a fight with its Home Owner’s Association over the height of the Wisteria bush in his front yard. There was some confusion as to whether the article governing the height of shrubs referred to the branches or the average bulk of the shrub’s trunk. Codes and Keys was seen the following Saturday morning up on a ladder with pruning shears and a pair of paisley gardening gloves.”
Zac, still wounded from an encountered with Owl City, imagined a mild-mannered tag team of Ben Gibbard bands against OC’s singer: “I heard Codes and Keys went over to Give Up‘s house and they got pretty trashed and set fire to Adam Young’s car, but then they apologized later on his Facebook page.”
I put a northwest spin on my answer: “I heard Codes and Keys punched a dude for shoving its girlfriend at a Sleater-Kinney show back in 2003. But Codes and Keys mostly fucked up its hand and felt really bad afterwards.”
I wish there were time, dear Bollocks! readers, to share with you each survey in its entirety, but three days of Death Cab for Cutie coverage would be too much. I do, however, want to share with you my favorite answers submitted by Zac and Justin. I suggested creating a tortured analogy between Codes and Keys and a film, book, or et cetera. And Justin’s answer paints a vivid picture of how he sees the record: “The analogy I’m basing this on is a film that doesn’t exist, and shoud not exist. High Fidelity 2. Imagine if there were a second film that picked up a few months after the closing of High Fidelity. Rob and Laura really do make it and Rob overcomes his destructive pattern of always looking for the next potential relationship with every cute girl who flirts with him. He mellows out, he gets happy, he invests in Laura and their future. Maybe he sells off Championship Vinyl to Dick and Barry and moves to the suburbs. Rob and Laura live happily ever after. Good for Rob, bad for us. Who would watch that? That sounds horrible!
“Well, that’s exactly what happened to DCFC. The band settled down with a major label, Gibbard settled down with Zooey and they’re done chasing the dream. It’s good for them as people but the story the band has been trying to tell suffers. Just as Rob Gordon was best as the tragically misguided but well-meaning chump who resonated with thousands of hopelesssly unsettled single guys everywhere, so was Death Cab the band that you’d put on after getting dumped or when your current relationship was on the rocks and you could find comfort in knowing that Ben Gibbard was right there with you, pushing through the jungle of hit-and-miss dating and dead end relationships.
“What’s found on Codes and Keys is the aftermath of getting what you’ve been pining for all along: comfort and security. You get to stop trying so hard and let yourself go a little bit. Codes and Keys is the musical equivalent of making a movie about Rob and Laura picking out what color of paint to use in the kitchen and coming to an agreement without any argument.”
Now bear in mind, that’s just one man’s opinion of Codes and Keys. Compare that with my favorite answer from Zac. When asked what the nicest thing was that he could honestly say about the album, Zac replied simply (and elegantly), “Ben Gibbard’s voice is like an aural rim-job.”
My favorite answer of my own is only being included here because it kinda sums up how I’ve felt about Death Cab for Cutie as a band for quite some time. To the question of what sort of alcoholic beverage Codes and Keys would be and why, I wrote that it would be, “A vodka-cran… it’s pretty, but stronger than it looks and someone will undoubtedly call you a fag for liking it.”
So there you have it, folks. Two days spent dissecting Codes and Keys in no really organized fashion. If our approach was hamhazard, I hope it was at least entertaining. Since I’m the editor here and usually get to have the last word, I’m gonna say that we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here this week. We’ve learned that it’s okay to have disagreements about music, especially if they’re funny disagreements and we’ve also learned that Zac likes having his asshole tickled by song.