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Studio album by Death Cab for Cutie
Released October 7, 2003
Genre Indie rock, alternative rock
Length 44:11
Label Barsuk
Producer Chris Walla
Death Cab for Cutie chronology
The Photo Album
Singles from Transatlanticism
  1. "The New Year"
    Released: 2003
  2. "The Sound of Settling"
    Released: December 26, 2003
  3. "Title and Registration"
    Released: 2004

Transatlanticism is the fourth studio album by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie, released on October 7, 2003, by Barsuk Records.[1] The band's second concept album, Transatlanticism features a theme set around long-distance love. Three singles and accompanying music videos were released for the album: "The New Year", "The Sound of Settling", and "Title and Registration". The first two singles, "The New Year" and "The Sound of Settling", reached number 86 and 84, respectively, on the UK Singles Chart.

Transatlanticism received acclaim from critics when it was released and has since been considered the band's greatest album. The album charted at number 97 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States. In 2013, Barsuk Records released Transatlanticism Demos, a collection of demo versions of songs from Transatlanticism to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the album's release.


Sample from the song "Transatlanticism"

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Similar to all previous Death Cab for Cutie releases, Transtlanticism was mostly written by lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Gibbard, with many of the songs co-written with other members of the band, particularly guitarist and producer Chris Walla. Prior to the album's release, Gibbard stated: "...unlike The Photo Album, I feel like this record is definitely more like a proper album. We’ve tried to construct it with transitions of songs going in and out of each other, and I think it's a little bit more expansive than the last record."[2]

The album is the first to feature drummer Jason McGerr, who joined the band earlier in 2003, and features writing credits on the songs "The New Year", and "We Looked Like Giants".[3]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Alternative Press 4.5/5 stars[5]
Blender 3.5/5 stars[6]
Mojo 3/5 stars[7]
Pitchfork Media 6.4/10[8]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[9]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[10]
Spin A−[11]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[12]
Uncut 4/5 stars[13]

When Transatlanticism was released in 2003, it charted at number 97 on the Billboard 200.[14] By May 2004, it had sold 135,000 copies,[15] and on April 29, 2008, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having shipped 500,000 copies in the United States.[1]

Transatlanticism was released to widespread acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 85, based on 21 reviews.[16] Uncut magazine called it "a record of rare beauty and poise",[13] and Alternative Press called it "Death Cab's slowest and most mature recording" with "hidden bits of magic [that] reveal themselves brilliantly."[5] Andy Greenwald of Spin found the lyrics' imagery to be strikingly vivid and praised both Gibbard and producer Chris Walla's musical direction.[11] Rob Theakston of AllMusic wrote that Transatlanticism is "such a decadently good listen from start to finish" because of the band's maturity as songwriters and musicians.[4] Stephen Thompson, writing in The A.V. Club, said that the album "surpasses Gibbard's other career highpoints" and called it "a lush, impeccably produced, musically adventurous, emotionally resonant examination of the way relationships are both strengthened and damaged by distance".[17] Christine Klunk of PopMatters called it a "nearly perfect pop record" whose straightforward melodies and honest narratives extol the human condition.[18]

In a mixed review, William Morris from Pitchfork Media felt that the album "dulls the edges of their usually acute divinations".[8] Colin McElligatt of Stylus Magazine said that despite his strong melodies, Gibbard has regressed as a lyricist, as his lyrics are more "asinine" than before.[19] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice cited "We Looked Like Giants" as a "choice cut",[20] indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".[21]

In 2011, Transatlanticism was named by NPR Music as one of the fifty most important recordings of the decade,[22] ranked 57th in Rolling Stone magazine's decade-end list.[23] In 2013, Death Cab For Cutie re-released the album, marking its 10th year anniversary with a remaster available as vinyl or MP3 download, including demos for all the songs from the album.[24] Reviewing the reissue, Ian Cohen from Pitchfork Media reconsidered William Morris' initial assessment of the album and awarded the album a higher score, stating that "judging Death Cab, and Transatlanticism in particular, from a completely objective standpoint feels kinda insincere and wholly inaccurate."[25]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Ben Gibbard.

No. Title Music Length
1. "The New Year"   Ben Gibbard, Nick Harmer, Jason McGerr, Chris Walla 4:06
2. "Lightness"   Gibbard 3:30
3. "Title and Registration"   Gibbard, Walla 3:39
4. "Expo '86"   Gibbard, Walla 4:11
5. "The Sound of Settling"   Gibbard 2:12
6. "Tiny Vessels"   Gibbard, Harmer 4:21
7. "Transatlanticism"   Gibbard, Walla 7:55
8. "Passenger Seat"   Gibbard 3:41
9. "Death of an Interior Decorator"   Gibbard 2:56
10. "We Looked Like Giants"   Gibbard, Harmer, McGerr, Walla 5:32
11. "A Lack of Color"   Gibbard 3:35

Reissue bonus material[edit]



Death Cab for Cutie
  • Benjamin Gibbard – vocals, guitar, piano, foot-stomp and hand clap effects on "The Sound of Settling"
  • Nick Harmer – bass guitar, vocals on "Transatlanticism", foot-stomp and hand clap effects on "The Sound of Settling"
  • Jason McGerr – drums, loops, percussion, foot-stomp and hand clap effects on "The Sound of Settling"
  • Christopher Walla – guitar, keyboards, samples, production, mixing (except "The Sound of Settling" and "Tiny Vessels"), recording, vocals on "Transatlanticism"
Additional personnel
  • Ed Brooks – mastering
  • John Goodmanson  – mixing on "The Sound of Settling" and "Tiny Vessels"
  • Rob Herbst – foot-stomp and hand clap effects on "The Sound of Settling"
  • Sean Nelson – vocals on "Transatlanticism"
  • John Roderick – vocals on "Transatlanticism"
  • Phil Wandscher – vocals on "Transatlanticism"
  • Mike Kezner – sitar, vocals on "Death of an Interior Decorator"


Chart (2003–04)[26] Peak
U.S. Billboard 200 97
U.S. Top Independent Albums 8


  1. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database: Transatlanticism". Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ discorder | that magazine from CiTR 101.9fm. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Art Pop from Seattle's Death Cab for Cutie". Npr Music (October 24, 2005). Retrieved on July 9, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Theakston, Rob. "Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie". AllMusic. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". Alternative Press: 98. November 2003. 
  6. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". Blender: 116. October 2003. 
  7. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". Mojo: 122. December 2003. 
  8. ^ a b Morris, William (October 7, 2003). "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Tsang, Teri (November 10, 2003). "Transatlanticism". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (November 13, 2003). "Death Cab For Cutie: Transatlanticism". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Greenwald, Andy (November 2003). "Death Cab for Cutie, 'Transatlanticism' (Barsuk)". Spin: 112. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ Knott, Adam (November 15, 2008). "Review: Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism". Uncut: 107. November 2003. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Artist Chart History – Death Cab for Cutie". Billboard. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  15. ^ Stout, Gene (May 7, 2004). "All hail Death Cab, with good reason". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Transatlanticism Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  17. ^ Thompson, Stephen (October 6, 2003). "Death Cab For Cutie: Transatlanticism". The A.V. Club (Chicago). Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Klunk, Christine (October 14, 2003). "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". PopMatters. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  19. ^ McElligatt, Colin (October 9, 2003). "Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 13, 2004). "Consumer Guide: MLK Fever". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "CG 90s: Key to Icons". Robert Christgau. Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  22. ^ Boilen, Bob. (November 16, 2009) "The Decade's 50 Most Important Recordings : All Songs Considered Blog". NPR. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  23. ^ "Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums, Songs Of The ’00s". Stereogum. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Stephen Thompson. "First Listen: Death Cab For Cutie, 'Transatlanticism (10th Anniversary Edition)'". NPR. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  25. ^ Cohen, Ian (November 6, 2013) "Death Cab for Cutie: Transatlanticism". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on November 8, 2013.
  26. ^ "Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie : Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 

External links[edit]