Barsuk Records; January 2008
I hate to do this, but the truth must be told: This album is not good and actually verges on bad. Chris WallaDeath Cab for Cutie guitarist and the go-to producer for Tegan and Sara, the Decemberists, and Death Cabclearly is an excellent behind-the-scenes guy, but he simply can’t hold his own as a front man. The album’s single, “Sing Again,” is a musically upbeat song with a catchy, poppy chorus, and “Two-Fifty” opens the record with promise, since Walla overdubs his voice to create a fuller, richer, more multifaceted sound. Other than that, Field Manual falls very flat, especially on tracks like “The Score” that pair strong music with weak vocals. And as a Death Cab lifer, this is truly difficult news to deliver.