Was the autumn of 2003 emo’s last gasp? And was that last, bittersweet exhale Death Cab For Cutie’s breakthrough “Transatlanticism?” Probably.
Now, I’m not looking to reignite the “what is and isn’t emo” argument here. But I do think it’s important to note that, just as Death Cab were dropping their masterpiece on the world, these guys were beginning their campaign to redefine emo for the Hot Topic crowd. Which, to this day, still doesn’t sit well with emo purists who sing the praises of Rites of Spring. (Fun fact: 68% of music fans who name-drop Rites of Spring don’t actually own any music by Rites of Spring.)
The point is, 2003 was a time of transition in indie music. Emo was evolving, and the cycle of “The” bands from the prior three years of the decade was winding down. “Transatlanticism” sounded like nothing else at the time, yet seemed to draw inspiration from emo staples like Sunny Day Real Estate’s ‘Diary.’
NPR is streaming the 10th anniversary edition, which is a simple reissue of the original album that also includes demo versions of all 11 songs. It’s certainly worth revisiting, as is this draft of Pitchfork’s 6.4 review of “Transatlanticism.”
And of course a 6.4. Because Pitchfork.