The Photo Album

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The Photo Album
A close-up to a box with the words "Death Cab For Cutie".
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 9, 2001
StudioHall of Justice (Seattle)
LabelBarsuk/Fierce Panda
ProducerChris Walla
Death Cab for Cutie chronology
We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes
The Photo Album
The Stability EP
Singles from The Photo Album
  1. "A Movie Script Ending"
    Released: February 8, 2002
  2. "I Was a Kaleidoscope"
    Released: October 15, 2002
  3. "We Laugh Indoors"
    Released: October 29, 2002

The Photo Album is the third studio album by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie, released October 9, 2001 on Barsuk Records.

The albums spawned three singles: "A Movie Script Ending", "I Was a Kaleidoscope", and "We Laugh Indoors". All of the singles charted on the UK Singles Chart, with the highest-charting song "I Was a Kaleidoscope" peaking at number 115. The Photo Album was the first Death Cab for Cutie album to feature charting songs, with "A Movie Script Ending" also becoming the first of three songs by the band to eventually feature on the television show The O.C.. It was the only full-length album to feature drummer Michael Schorr.

A limited edition extended play called The Stability EP was released in early 2002, containing bonus tracks from the limited edition and Japanese versions of The Photo Album.[1]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Alternative Press8/10[4]
The Austin Chronicle[5]
The Boston Phoenix[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[10]
Under the Radar8/10[12]

The Photo Album holds a score of 75 out of 100 from the review aggregating site Metacritic based on 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[2] John D. Luerssen of Billboard gave the album a very favorable review and said, "If it's true that music of this nature doesn't get anymore heartfelt, it also rarely gets more infectious."[13] Mojo wrote that the band "weave together smartly taut guitars with vivid observational lyrics to create perfectly crafted pop songs, stunning in their simplicity and beauty",[14] while Alternative Press called the album "the skillful meshing of Benjamin Gibbard's part-stream-of-consciousness, part-confessional vocals with melancholy piano and achingly melodic guitars that reveal a fleshed-out Cutie are indeed a band of uncommon beauty."[4] Nude as the News gave it a score of eight out of ten and stated, "While not every song is a gem, the ones that are have pushed the band's already high standard of compelling indie pop one notch higher."[2] gave it seven stars out of ten and called it "evidence of a band that's maturing, slowing down and trying new things."[15] Drawer B gave it a positive review and stated, "The most noteworthy aspect of The Photo Album is the band's upward trajectory. The music is cohesive and even, though still somewhat sluggish."[16]

In a mixed assessment, Stephen Thompson of The A.V. Club wrote that the album "is often marked by pleasant but static, middle-of-the-road material."[17] Melanie Haupt of The Austin Chronicle said, "It's a rare talent that can express such emotions so concisely; even more rare is the ability to deliver them in a near-whisper rather than a scream."[5] Q wrote, "Full of beautiful pop songs, The Photo Album is just that—a collection of vignettes."[9] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a three-star honorable mention rating, indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure".[18][19]

Track listing[edit]

1."Steadier Footing"Ben Gibbard1:47
2."A Movie Script Ending"Gibbard4:19
3."We Laugh Indoors"Gibbard, Nick Harmer, Chris Walla4:58
4."Information Travels Faster"Gibbard, Walla4:02
5."Why You'd Want to Live Here"Gibbard4:44
6."Blacking Out the Friction"Gibbard3:27
7."I Was a Kaleidoscope"Gibbard, Walla2:50
8."Styrofoam Plates"Gibbard, Harmer, Walla5:24
9."Coney Island"Gibbard2:40
10."Debate Exposes Doubt"Gibbard, Walla4:36
Japanese edition bonus track
11."Gridlock Caravans" (also track 6 on LP edition and found on the UK bonus disc) 
Japanese and limited edition bonus tracks (also on The Stability EP)
12."20th Century Towers" (Gibbard/Harmer/Walla) 
13."All Is Full of Love" (Björk Guðmundsdóttir) 
14."Stability" (Gibbard/Walla) 


Death Cab for Cutie

Additional personnel

  • Sean Nelson – high vocals on "Blacking Out the Friction", harmony vocals on "I Was a Kaleidoscope"
  • Jeff Saltzman – mastering
  • John Vanderslice – low vocals on "Blacking Out the Friction", backing vocals on "I Was a Kaleidoscope"


  1. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie: The Stability EP". October 5, 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Reviews for The Photo Album by Death Cab for Cutie". Metacritic. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  3. ^ Rabid, Jack. "The Photo Album – Death Cab for Cutie". AllMusic. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Alternative Press (161): 79. December 2001.
  5. ^ a b Haupt, Melanie (November 9, 2001). "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album (Barsuk)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  6. ^ Wood, Mikael (November 8–15, 2001). "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album (Barsuk)". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on June 28, 2016. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  7. ^ Alexander, Jim (March 5, 2002). "Death Cab For Cutie : The Photo Album". NME. London. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Tangari, Joe (November 14, 2001). "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Q (188): 118. March 2002.
  10. ^ Catucci, Nick (2004). "Death Cab for Cutie". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 221–22. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ Greenwald, Andy (November 2001). "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Spin. 17 (11): 138. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  12. ^ Lynch, Wendy. "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album (Barsuk Records)". Under the Radar. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  13. ^ Luerssen, John D. (October 16, 2001). "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 13, 2001. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Mojo (101): 96. April 2002.
  15. ^ Baldwin, Rosecrans (2001). "Death Cab For Cutie: The Photo Album". Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  16. ^ Doherty, Patrick (October 19, 2001). "Death Cab For Cutie, The Photo Album (Barsuk)". Drawer B. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  17. ^ Thompson, Stephen (October 9, 2001). "Death Cab For Cutie: The Photo Album". The A.V. Club. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Death Cab for Cutie: The Photo Album". Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Key to Icons". Retrieved July 9, 2013.

External links[edit]