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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

The Postal Service
Give Up (CD)

It was tempting to immediately write off the Postal Service as a well-meaning but ill-fated collusion between Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cabber Ben Gibbard without even giving the disc a spin. Though we all know that the latter has reserved a separate spot in his heart for electronica and experimental beat driven music (just witness the Death Cab For Cutie cover of Bjork's "All Is Full Of Love" or the sample happy "Flustered/Hey Tomcat" off of You Can Play These Songs With Chords), this doesn't necessarily make this highly touted pairing out on SubPop Records required listening. Before the cries of naysayer descend upon me, I'll confess up front that the reason for my lukewarm interest is that I still have not been able to "get jiggy" with electronic music in general and all the bastard children it has spawned. So my opinion here is going to be immediately suspect.

So I was actually surprised that the electronic bopping and programmed synth licks didn't bother me as much as I thought it might, and certain songs were reminiscient of a speedy Magnetic Fields. The Nintendo-like licks on "Brand New Colony" were fairly interesting, and there's some textures in here that might beg a second listen. The main problem for me here is that I'd be able to recognize Gibbard's voice anywhere, whether it's buried in the lo-fi mud of his other side project, All-Star Quarterback, or telephonized on any number of Death Cab For Cutie songs. And because of this, instead of coming across like a collaboration from members of two distinct bands, Give Up can at times sound like Death Cab For Cutie playing New Order and Pet Shop Boys songs.

Fans may shoot me for this, but maybe Gibbard should have let someone else do the majority of the singing. He is an awesome singer so it's not his ability that's in question. But after all, Gibbard is such a talented musician with the ability to play guitar, keyboard and drums, that there's no need for him to stay on vocals all of the time, especially on a side project. Indeed, some of the more interesting moments for me were the ones in which Jen Wood or Jenny Lewis played less than second fiddle, such as parts of "Nothing Better". Perhaps these vocal contributions could be emphasized on the next Postal Service album. You know, to provide some variety for my otherwisely Death Cab happy heart.

- review by BY (4.30.03)        

Sub Pop Records
2514 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

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