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From The Indie Vault: "Give Up." - The Postal Service

The Postal Service is a west coast American electronic indie pop band composed of vocalist Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and producer Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, Headset. Which started out as a simple collaboration for one song "(This is) the dream of evan and chan." But it turned into an indie phenominon. This is was widely recieved, and sparked an entire remix album, with artists including Lali Puna, The Flaming Lips, Safety Scissors, Barbara Morgenstern and Superpitcher.

The band's name was chosen due to the way in which it produced its songs. Tamborello wrote and performed instrumental tracks and then sent the DATs to Gibbard, who edited the song as he saw fit (adding his vocals along the way), sending them back to Tamborello via the United States Postal Service.

The band's debut album, Give Up, was released on February 18, 2003. Several songs on the album feature guest vocals from Jenny Lewis, the solo artist and lead singer of Rilo Kiley, as well as vocals from indie rock musician Jen Wood. Dntel and Chris Walla produced the album.The album primarily deals with themes of love, as well as fame, history, and friendship."Clark Gable" is about Gibbard making home movies with an ex and "Nothing Better" is a duet between a couple about to break up. Allmusic's Heather Phares compared "Nothing Better" to The Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" and Gibbard later confirmed that "Don't You Want Me?" was the inspiration for the song. Gibbard said that "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", "Brand New Colony" and "This Place Is a Prison" were the only songs that bordered on autobiographical. He went on to say that "Such Great Heights" was the only song he had ever written that was positive about love.

Critics compared it to the eighties synth and New Wave genres. Pitchfork Media's Matt LeMay and Phares both commented on the contrasts between the "cool, clean synths" and Gibbard's vocal melodies. Phares went on to liken "This Place Is a Prison" to Björk's recent works. Death Cab for Cutie had previously covered Björk's "All Is Full of Love" on their The Stability EP.

Walla played the guitar and piano on several tracks. Though both artists' main bands were still active at the time, The Postal Service supported the album with a successful concert tour and has stated its intention to tour again in the future. The album was the Sub Pop label's most successful release since Nirvana's debut album Bleach. The album's most well-known single was "Such Great Heights", which is featured in advertisements for UPS and Kaiser Permanente. The song was covered by Iron and Wine and was featured on the soundtrack for the film Garden State, as well as a commercial for M&M's. It was later covered by Amanda Palmer, Ben Folds, The Scene Aesthetic, Brack Cantrell, Confide, The Shins, and Streetlight Manifesto. The song "We Will Become Silhouettes" was featured in the trailer for the movie Funny People. In 2004, the song "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" was featured in the soundtrack of the 2004 film D.E.B.S..

In August 2003, the United States Postal Service sent the band a cease and desist letter, citing its trademark on the phrase "postal service". After negotiations, the USPS relented, allowing the band use of the trademark in exchange for promotional efforts on behalf of the USPS and a performance at its annual National Executive Conference. Additionally, at one point the USPS website sold the band's CDs. In 2007, "Such Great Heights" appeared in the background of the "whiteboard" advertising campaign for one of the federal establishment's private competitors, the United Parcel Service.

In January 2006, Josh Melnick and Xander Charity, who had produced the "Such Great Heights" music video, created a commercial for Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and Intel using similar footage. While strikingly similar to the music video, the commercial did not contain imagery of the band or a recording of its music. On January 19, 2006, Gibbard stated on the band's website, "It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computers' new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent." The band did not take legal action against Apple or the filmmakers.

Critics were generally positive about the album. LeMay gave it a rating of 8 out of 10, calling it "a pretty damned strong record, and one with enough transcendent moments to forgive it its few substandard tracks and ungodly lyrical blunders". Both LeMay and Pop Matters's Devon Powers commented on the "clichéd", "cringe-worthy" lyrics of "Sleeping In". Michaelangelo Matos of Rolling Stone said it was "a cuddly little new wave reverie", giving it 3 out of 5 stars. Phares said that whilst the album was good, it did not measure up to either Gibbard or Tamborello's main projects. Online music magazine Pitchfork Media placed Give Up at number 104 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.

The album did well, in sales too.
The album peaked at #114 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and sold over 1,000,000 copies.
The album was generally well received, and critics commented on its throwbacks to the eighties New Wave genre.

Track Listing:
"The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" – 4:44
"Such Great Heights" – 4:26
"Sleeping In" – 4:21
"Nothing Better" (featuring Jen Wood) – 3:46
"Recycled Air" – 4:29
"Clark Gable" – 4:54
"We Will Become Silhouettes" – 5:00
"This Place Is a Prison" – 3:54
"Brand New Colony" – 4:12
"Natural Anthem" – 5:07

1 comment:

  1. great piece! i wish this band would put out something new


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