Album review: ‘Give Up’ by The Postal Service

Underrated album hosts songs with bright melodies, dark lyrics, comforting vocals



Every song on this underrated album is near perfect.

COLE QUINN, Evergreen photo editor

When it comes to the art of reviewing albums, every critic usually has one album they consider to be underrated, an album everyone around you thinks is average, but you treasure deeply. There is one album in my collection that fits this category, and I truly think it is a work of art.

The Postal Service is an indie electronica trio composed of Death Cab for Cutie vocalist Ben Gibbard, producer Jimmy Tamborello, and background vocalist Jenny Lewis. The group originated as a side project between Gibbard and Tamborello. The two worked on the album by sending each other demo tapes back and forth through the mail, hence the name of their group. In 2003, the band released their only album, “Give Up,” under Sub Pop Records.

The band’s sound usually blends keyboards and samples with live drums and guitar, creating a sound typically described as indietronica. The juxtaposition of the fuzzy production with Gibbard’s clean, soft voice creates a relaxing atmosphere for the listener. 

The most beautiful mixture of these elements is in the track “Recycled Air,” in which Gibbard emulates experiencing fear while flying on an airplane. 

“Knuckles clenched to white

As the landing gear retract for flight

My head’s a balloon

Inflating with the altitude”

The warm sounds of Tamborello’s keyboard coupled with the quiet vocals of Gibbard create an atmosphere that comforts the listener into a deep state of ease. The background vocals provided by Lewis sound like an angel guiding Gibbard’s vocals on the track.

The track “Such Great Heights” became the band’s biggest hit, finding its way onto airplay on the radio. It’s no wonder, as the loud bass and percussion create a fast-paced beat that is sure to stick in the listener’s head. The song is one of the more positive ones on the album, as it describes the strength of a relationship and how it has elevated past the level of love.

“They will see us waving from such great heights

Come down now, they’ll say

But everything looks perfect from far away

Come down now but we’ll stay”

The track “We Will Become Silhouettes” is simultaneously the happiest and darkest song on the album. The warm chord progression and the fuzzy keyboard samples create a very joyful aura. Gibbard’s lyrics, however, contradict the happy sound of the song by using the apocalypse as a metaphor for the end of a relationship.

“And I’m looking through the glass

Where the light bends at the cracks

And I’m screaming at the top of my lungs

Pretending the echoes belong to someone

Someone I used to know”

The track is the epitome of a happy-sounding song with a dark meaning, as the track tricks the listener flawlessly into believing that the song is happy.

Every track on the album is near perfect. I honestly believe that this side project of Gibbard tops any of the work he has done with Death Cab for Cutie. The tonality of his singing voice fits Tamborello’s production perfectly. The chemistry between the two is unlike any other group I have seen. 

The album leaves me desperately wanting more from the group. 

Score: 9.7/10