Death Cab for Cutie Takes on Amazon and Gentrification in New Single

Ben Gibbard walks through a gentrifying Seattle. YouTube

There are innumerable reasons to criticize tech leaders like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. And now, thanks to Death Cab for Cutie, we can do it in song.

The alternative rock group released their new single “Gold Rush” this week, which is part of its upcoming album Thank You for Today (which will be released August 17).

Both the song and its video are a stinging critique of the gentrifying effects tech companies have on cities.

Lead singer Ben Gibbard laments the fact that cities “scrap those monuments” in favor of “a false sense of permanence.”

“They keep digging down down down, so the cars can live underground,” Gibbard sings, in a seeming allusion to Musk’s Boring Company.

Since the band hails from Seattle, Gibbard harbors a particular dislike for Amazon—both for what the company has done to the city and what it will do to the metropolis that hosts HQ2.

Amazon isn’t just a tech giant; it’s a hub of political influence. Most recently, the company killed a Seattle business tax that would’ve paid for affordable housing.

In an interview on NPR’s All Songs Considered, Gibbard also pointed out that the average worker stays at Amazon for only one to two years. That high level of turnover means people living in Seattle aren’t that invested in their communities.

And instead of encouraging workers to get involved in their neighborhoods, Gibbard said Amazon focuses on “trying to enrich their employees with some kind of cultural experience in between 15-hour coding sessions.”

The video for “Gold Rush” makes this plain, as Gibbard walks down a Seattle street that models the passage of time. The initially empty block fills up with all sorts of distractions, including a man looking at his watch, who runs into Gibbard; a woman holding a boom box, in the style of Do the Right Thing or Say Anything; groups of people wearing headphones, both big Beats and the smaller Apple variety; and a bunch of people looking zombie-like at smartphones.

Eventually, the crowd of people becomes so thick that Gibbard disappears—he’s been swallowed up by the technology.

Gibbard, who is 42 years old, admitted on NPR that the lyrics and visuals may make him sound like a “get-off-my-lawn type of guy.” But it’s undeniable that tech firms don’t always think about the footprint they leave in the areas they call home.

They’d better start, otherwise a whole bunch of other protest songs will follow in Death Cab’s wake.

Death Cab for Cutie Takes on Amazon and Gentrification in New Single