When you think about the big names on the legendary Seattle based indie-label Sub Pop you clearly think of the first releases of bands like NIRVANA or SOUNDGARDEN – or maybe the newer ones like THE SHINS or BEACH HOUSE. Some might have even forgotten that one of the labels most successful releases has been a little record from 2003 – Give Up by THE POSTAL SERVICE. A one-time side project from electronic producer Jimmy Tamborello aka DNTEL and Ben Gibbard, frontman of indie-rock heroes DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, which came out of nothing and vanished even faster. Their album became their legacy – and it grew over the past decade. Important enough that now – ten years later, Gibbard and Tamborello reform for a celebration of that legacy in form of a big deluxe set and a reunion tour. But some of you might ask – what’s the deal with these guys?
To understand the fascination and special role of Give Up and THE POSTAL SERVICE you have to understand the time they are coming from. Ten years ago, the music industry was a different one. The internet was already there, slowly changing the musical landscape but the big major labels ignored the trend and felt safe in their castles. The indie labels did their thing and genres might have been much more separated. It was a time when ‘indie’ still was more of a spirit than a genre classification – THE STROKES just happened, the British new wave hype around FRANZ FERDINAND and Co. was not there yet. Without sounding too nostalgic but, yeah, it was quite nice. And DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE were still an insider tipp as well.
In 2013 mixing indie spirit with electronic beats is not a big thing anymore. But ten years ago there wasn’t any HOT CHIP, WE HAVE BAND or a general open mind for the ‘musical world’ of the other side. An indie-band showing love for the PET SHOP BOYS? Normal today, strange back than. Bridging the gap between electronica and independent music in combination with a quite solid selection of catchy songs – that’s the credit of THE POSTAL SERVICE. The original album stands the test of time – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight is still one hell of an opener and the other tracks like We Will Become Silhouetts, Clark Gable or the always working classic Such Great Heights are really wonderful pop songs. Tamborello’s electronic is very soft, analog and reduced. The songs are always quite pure, never overshadowed. And they work quite well in combination with Gibbard’s smart lyrics and tender vocals.
His songs weren’t so far away from DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE – they were just settled in a different environment. Jenny Lewis – singer of the now split RILO KILEY – also helped with loveable backing vocals. The second disc basicly includes all the bonus tracks from the single releases back in ’03 and ’04. B-Sides, a PHIL COLLINS cover, some enjoyable electronic remixes – from pop to experimental, acoustic versions, and covers by befriended bands THE SHINS or IRON & WINE. And two newly recorded tracks that fit quite well to the other ones. The melodic Turn Around and the grooving A Tattered Line Of String revisit the atmosphere of 2003 and really makes you wonder why a sophomore record never happened.
Maybe it didn’t need to. THE POSTAL SERVICE opened up the world to a new thinking in terms of sound. Even with the recording process as they sent the single files via mail to each other. Analog, not digitally – something that became quite normal in the era of Filesharing and Dropbox. Gibbard, Tamborello and Lewis had one chance, one moment and one task – and they succeeded with it. And this is why we should take the time to celebrate this little record – we still love to see them waving from such great heights.