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Postal Service | Give Up | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

The Postal Service

Give Up (Sub Pop)
by Tim Den

I thought I was in heaven when Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard announced his collaboration with producer/engineer/electronics wizard Jimmy Tamborello (aka Dntel) in the form of a full-length. Prospects of heart-melting melodies backed by Björk-worthy bleeps and bloops filled my overactive imagination, as I was certain that a sure thing was on its way.

And, for the most part, I was right. Give Up embodies the spotaneity that the collaboration functioned on, as an irrepresible sense of giddy freedom and happiness permeates most tracks here. Guided by Tamborello's arsenal of inexhaustible '80s synth beats (and noises), Gibbard's trademark effortless crooning sails from one end-of-movie-soundtrack to the next, spouting Spring love with abandon. Even songs that deal with break-ups and strained relationships (opener "The District Sleeps Tonight" being the best example and the best song on the album) exude smiles from every pore.

However, the momentum of the warm'n'fuzzy fest often gets stopped dead in its tracks by something I would've never guessed possible: Gibbard's lyrics. With many lines seemingly half-assed and spur-of-the-moment, I found myself in disbelief that this is the same man who wrote "Styrofoam Plates." Example: "Last week I had the strangest dream/that everything was exactly how it seemed/and there was never any mystery/to who shot John F. Kennedy." Another example: "I'm feeling green/like teenage lovers between the sheets/ba ba ba ba ba." Yet another: "I've got a cupboard with cans of food/filtered water and pictures of you." Did he write this stuff on lunch break? Not to mention the worst case of "milking one idea for aeons just to fill out the line" in "Nothing Better": "I will block the door like a goalie tending the net... (okay, fair enough) in the third quarter... (okay, we get it)... of a tied-game... (alright already!)... rivalry (we fucking GET IT already!)." Normally, I wouldn't pinpoint so many sour lyrical craters, but given this is very un-Gibbard - and the semi-tongue-in-cheek '80s dance sound of the music only sinks the airheaded-ness deeper - I just had to stand up and shout. What's next, "if they don't dance/then they're no friends of mine?"

Lyrical daftness aside, Give Up delivers its promise of good times in electrobeatville, boogying like a 21st century electronica act hijacking an '80s night club. Sticky sweet with the top rolled down, here's to hoping The Postal Service don't get Flock Of Seagulls haircuts.
(PO Box 20367 Seattle, WA 98102)

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