The Postal Service - Give Up

Benjamin Short 23/03/2004

Rating: 3/5

For those of us who always thought that electronica and emotion were two mutually exclusive concepts, this record will come as something of a surprise. The Postal Service combine so many disparate musical elements that they defy generic classification, and indeed, much of the charm of 'Give Up' lies in its originality.

The Postal Service is the side project of Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, a man who obviously has difficulties in dreaming up half-decent band names, but whose musical talents are unquestionable.

Opening track 'The District Sleeps Alone' sets the tone for the rest of the album, with its clinical drum machine beats, chiming guitars and keyboards, and fragile string arrangements. Elsewhere, 'Nothing Better' is a duet, featuring delicate female vocals, and 'Clark Gable' showcases the narrative style lyrics which are the biggest strength of 'Give Up', with lines such as “I was waiting for a cross town train on the London underground / When it struck me / That I'd been waiting since birth to find a love that would look and sound / Like a movie”

An obvious but important criticism is the fact that many of these ten songs sound very similar to each other, yet the quality is of a uniformly high standard throughout. Occasionally, songs such as 'This Place Is A Prison' (a hymn to chemical excess, with the lyric “Inhaling thrills through $20 bills / and the tumblers are drained and then flooded / again and again”) step forward and grasp the listener's attention.

Altogether, The Postal Service have created a record which strives to innovate in every way possible, whilst still managing to feel intensely personal. It stands as a proud example to all musicians who draw their inspirations from the past of what can be done with just a little imagination.