The Postal Service: Give Up

The Postal Service: Give Up

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The Postal Service

Album: Give Up
Label: Sub Pop

Death Cab For Cutie singer Ben Gibbard made one vocal contribution to Dntel's Life Is Full Of Possibilities: "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan" served as the high point of an album that lovingly mashed indie-pop and electronics into something simultaneously fresh and retro. Gibbard and Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello must have felt a musical spark, because the two quickly began working together as The Postal Service, with Tamborello providing the electronics and Gibbard adding guitars and vocals. (Because they're based in different cities, Tamborello in L.A. and Gibbard in Seattle, the two often traded tapes via mail, hence the group's name.) Give Up, the duo's debut, delivers almost flawlessly on that first song's promise, unabashedly realizing an equal fondness for '80s electro-pop and the more modern sounds of glitchy IDM: If Pet Shop Boys recorded for Warp Records, the results might be close. Gibbard's fey vocals match the lush beats and samples as well as they do the more standard rock sound of his main band. He seems happy to experiment with different tempos, and as content as ever to wear his heart on his sleeve lyrically. An underappreciated wordsmith, Gibbard molds himself to fit the mood of Give Up, with only a few lines on the otherwise lovely "Sleeping In" stepping out of wistful sweetness and into excess. About half the album is flat-out terrific, from upbeat openers "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" and "Such Great Heights" to more downbeat songs like "Recycled Air." "Nothing Better" casts Gibbard and guest chanteuse Jen Wood in an updated version of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me," but it's played without the winking irony or emotional detachment of other bands currently fascinated with the '80s. As with most of Give Up, it works as both a musical side-step and great, simple pop.