Given that Death Cab for Cutie front man Ben Gibbard is in the midst of the most successful era of his songwriting career, it's amusing that Transatlanticism begins with him idly observing, "So this is the new year/ And I don't feel any different." He should feel different—after all, the Postal Service's Give Up, a result of his collaboration with Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello, has done monstrously well by indie standards, even garnering a highly rotated video on MTV2. And on Transatlanticism, Death Cab's fourth release, Gibbard's time away from the rest of the band is evident. Oh, sure, he's still singing those same soft, sweet, helplessly confessional, I-lost-my-girl-and-my-cashmere-sweater lyrics (read: "I am waiting for something to go wrong/I am waiting for familiar resolve/I am waiting for another repeat/Another diet fed by crippling defeat") with that same soft, sweet, little-boy voice of his. But this time, they're punctuated by stronger melodies —a side effect, perhaps, of his Postal Service gigs with Rilo Kiley's fabulous Jenny Lewis, best demonstrated by the bah-bahs and hand claps on "The Sound of Settling"—and infectious beats, some of which (notably the almost-danceable "Title and Registration") are influenced by his sessions with Tamborello. As opposed to the three rapid-fire, urgently paced releases before it, Transatlanticism is marked by a clearer awareness of songwriting arrangement, ambitiously delivering an album that's significantly more sustained and consistent. Here's hoping that Gibbard continues to feel the same as he always has.