The title of Death Cab for Cutie's fourth release, "The Photo Album," divulges the overall direction of the disc: All of the songs sound like memories. The band smoothly rides Ben Gibbard's vocal ability so as to innocently tenderize even the most toughest of subjects. Timid lyrics mix with melodic and repetitive song structures to yield some moments of genius.
The band's excellent musicianship is nostalgic -- feelings that are intensified through subdued pianos, organs and drums. From the girl named Guinevere lost in "We Laugh Indoors" to the sweet suffering in "Styrofoam Plates," the CD sets a new standard, painting musical pictures that aren't pretty but are melodically beautiful in their banality.