Transatlanticism is the fourth studio album by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie, released on October 7, 2003, by Barsuk Records. At this point in their career, the group had toured and recorded for nearly a half-decade. With tensions rising, the band decided to take time away from one another; notably, Gibbard collaborated with electronic musician Dntel (Jimmy Tamborello), and released an album, Give Up, under the name the Postal Service. Death Cab regrouped in late 2002 to create Transatlanticism, which was recorded in a leisurely manner over five-day stretches until June 2003.
The record is a concept album, exploring a theme of long-distance romance. Gibbard penned the lyrics, which are somber and focus on the need to be loved. Musically, the album utilizes ambience and instrumental sparseness as an extension of this theme. The album's title, likewise, references the Atlantic Ocean and uses it as a metaphor for geographic and emotional separation. Chris Walla, the band's guitarist, produced the album as he had for its predecessors. The album's artwork was created by artist Adde Russell.
Prior to the album's release, Give Up had become a huge success, eventually going platinum—unusual territory for indie rock artists. The band were also referenced on the television drama The O.C., which increased their profile. Expectations for Transatlanticism were high, with the band receiving renewed attention. The album was a success: it charted at number 97 on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States. It received acclaim from music critics, who praised its emotional tone and expansive music.