The band was originally a solo project by Gibbard, who expanded the project into a complete group upon getting a record deal. They released their debut album, Something About Airplanes, in 1998. The band’s fourth album, 2003’s Transatlanticism, broke into the mainstream both critically and commercially; its songs were featured in various TV series and films. The band’s major label debut for Atlantic Records, 2005’s Plans, went platinum. Their ninth and latest studio album, Thank You for Today, was released in August 2018.
Death Cab for Cutie’s music has been classified as indie rock, indie pop, and alternative rock. It is noted for its unconventional instrumentation and for Gibbard’s distinctive voice and lyrical style. Alongside their full-length studio albums, the band has released four EPs, two live EPs, one live album, and one demo album.
The group’s name comes from the song “Death Cab for Cutie,” written by Neil Innes and Vivian Stanshall and performed by their group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. It originally featured on the British television show Do Not Adjust Your Set (series 1 episode 7), as well as in The Beatles’ movie Magical Mystery Tour.