It has been years since a band has grabbed me as much as Death Cab for Cutie. They seem to be just on the edge of greatness, not a familiar--or perhaps even desirable--place for a band that has perfected itself over the past few years deep within the murky realms of Indie. Their name alone is offputting, and yet beguiling, as is DCFC itself. Transatlanticism is a great, great record. It has what all good, and great art has: true feeling, and originality. As well as tenderness, and bitterness; humor, and most importantly, honesty. Chris Walla's production is magnificent, particularly with the percussion. (The drumming is incredible.) But it's the songwriting--and the singing!--that shines best. In an odd way, Ben Gibbard reminds me of the great Canadian 70's songwriters, like Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. (It's no accident that he lists The Beatles as one of his influences.) "Passenger Seat" is easily one of the most compelling ballads of the past ten years. It's simple yet haunting, then reminiscent, and thankful. Yet it is far from maudlin. It is that other word: mature. One can only pray Gibbard keeps on pushing the envelope within and without. He's one of those rare creatures in today's overhyped and over-sold world: a real artist. This is not to sell short the rest of the band, without whom Gibbard wouldn't sound half as good. They are tight and intuitive. In another word: tasteful. Here's hoping Death Cab have the strength and desire to take themselves higher, even if it does mean testing the commercial marketplace. They are that good a band. They deserve all the recognition, even fame, they want.