Review by By Darian Magee - 4.5/5 Dragons From October 2014 Vandala Magazine READ MORE ARTICLES
With Chris Walla (guitarist) gone, the responsibility of dancing like an embarrassing parent chaperone at a high school dance rests solely on Ben Gibbards (vocals) shoulders. I hope this isn’t a burden he has to carry alone too long. Nick Harmer (bassist), time to step up your game. I’m giving Jason McGerr (drummer) a free pass because he has to sit while playing. While I’m incredibly sad over Walla’s departure, after listening to Field Manual I’m almost (emphasis on the almost) a little excited to see what he does next.
Fans of Death Cab for Cutie may be familiar with his style already. Although Walla took a backseat throughout his career with them, his distinct writing shone through in multiple songs such as The Ice is Getting Thinner, Someday You Will be Loved, and Brothers on a Hotel Bed. Pensive with an affinity for ballads, Chris Walla’s solo project seems to echo Transatlanticism in both sound and style – particularly the titular track. Reflective and broody, Field Manuel makes for an easy comparison to his previous works but carries his unique flair nonetheless. Every lyric is poetry and with the exception of “The Score”, each track carries the same heavy lullaby we’ve come to know and love. One track in particular stood out to me. Although not entirely flexible, Walla’s voice possesses a certain richness and “It’s Unsustainable” seemed to be built to show case his fluidity. It’s smooth, dreamy, and candy to the ears. Not to mention the gorgeous acoustics.
Despite my confidence in the guitarist, I can’t bring myself to picture him anywhere but beside Ben Gibbard and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to let him go yet. But one thing we must remember – Chris Walla’s barely gotten started.