In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Death Cab For Cutie’s The Photo Album, released Oct. 9, 2001, the band and Barsuk Records will release a 35-track deluxe reissue of the band’s third album.
The Photo Album (Deluxe Edition) features 35 newly remastered versions of the original album track list, along with three bonus tracks, originally released with the first CD pressing in 2001—and later re-released onThe Stability EP in 2002.
In addition to the band’s original demos for the album and previously unreleased rarities, including UK b-sides, which have never been released digitally, the reissue also includes covers of Björk’s “All Is Full of Love” and The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored.”
Available on all digital platforms on Oct. 29, the reissue will also get a limited edition LP+12” EP version of the album with a newly remastered vinyl (limited to 5,000 copies worldwide) release spring of 2022. The gatefold vinyl will include the original album on one disc and The Stability EP—previously reissued on vinyl once for the limited edition, now out-of-print, 2013 Death Cab for Cutie: The Barsuk Years box set—on the second disc.
Along with the news of the reissue of The Photo Album, the band revealed one of their previously unreleased demos for the song “Coney Island (Band Demo),” a track Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard calls “a Neil Young-stomp kind of thing” and adds that former DCFC guitarist and producer Chris Walla, who produced the band’s first seven albums, transformed the song into something bigger.
“It’s very indicative of the process we were employing at that point, which was to deconstruct something and build it completely back up,” says Gibbard. “In that particular case, it made the song a lot more interesting and gave it a nice flavor and a loneliness that sits well on the album.”
The Photo Album came out during a time when the Seattle-bred, Bellingham, Oregon-based foursome of Gibbard, Walla, bassist Nick Harmer and drummer Michale Schorr were at a crossroads of going full-on with the music and quitting their “day jobs.” Deciding to go for it with the band met many challenges during the production of the album in 2001, including the shutdown of one of the record distributors, which left a deep financial blow for the band as they were about to go on an extensive tour to support the album.
“We almost broke up a couple of times on that tour,” shares Gibbard. “This thing went from something we were doing for fun at a house in Bellingham because we’re all friends to, now we don’t see our other friends, because we’re doing the band all the time.”
Considered one of the band’s most beloved albums by fans, it’s one Gibbards says is among “the best I’ve ever written, and among the best we’ve ever put out.” For Walla, who also had to revisit the album for the reissue, any mixed feelings around the album were squashed.
“I think The Photo Album is pretty excellent,” says Walla. “The demos are especially satisfying to me. They were recorded live to the 8-track over the course of a few days just a week before we started the album proper, and they are a beautiful, buzzing, remarkably confident set of test polaroids for what the album would become.”
Gibbard adds that making the The Photo Album gave the band the push it needed at the time.
“What that period gave us was the opportunity to push it all the way to the edge, personally and creatively, and go, ‘OK, wait a second, this is important to us. We are friends. This is worth saving. This is worth continuing to do,’” says Gibbard. “That really opened up the creative play field that would become our next album, ‘Transatlanticism.’ We finally recognized that we love doing this. We just needed a break once in a while.”
The Photo Album (Deluxe Edition) Track list
1. Steadier Footing
2. A Movie Script Ending
3. We Laugh Indoors
4. Information Travels Faster
5. Why You’d Want To Live Here
6. Blacking Out The Friction
7. I Was A Kaleidoscope
8. Styrofoam Plates
9. Coney Island
10. Debate Exposes Doubt
The Stability EP
11. 20th Century Towers
12. All Is Full Of Love
Rarities & Unreleased Recordings
14. Gridlock Caravans
15. Information Travels Faster (Alternate Lyric Demo)
16. I Wanna Be Adored (Live)
17. I Was A Kaleidoscope (Live)
18. We Laugh Indoors (Dub)
19. Debate Exposes Doubt (Acoustic)
20. A Movie Script Ending (Acoustic)
21. I Was A Kaleidoscope (Acoustic, Live on KEXP)
22. Corny Island (Studio Outtake)
23. We Laugh Indoors (UK Single Mix)
24. Steadier Footing (Acoustic Studio Outtake)
25. A Movie Script Ending (Band Demo)
26. We Laugh Indoors (Band Demo)
27. Information Travels Faster (Band Demo)
28. Why You’d Want To Live Here (Band Demo)
29. Blacking Out The Friction (Band Demo)
30. I Was A Kaleidoscope (Band Demo)
31. Styrofoam Plates (Band Demo)
32. Coney Island (Band Demo)
33. Debate Exposes Doubt (Band Demo)
34. 20th Century Towers (Band Demo)
35. Stable Song (Band Demo)