An intriguing history surrounds the fractured completion of the debut album from avant-garde elctronic outfit the Postal Service. Written by Ben Gibbard of Seattle noise-monkeys Death Cab For Cutie, and bolted on to a wilfully glitchy tapestry of stuttering beats and sweeping faux-string arrangements by Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel), it really shouldn't hold water as a concept. The fact that it became one of the biggest triumphs of 2003 is some testament to the vision of its twin creators, and particularly the blossoming songwriting talent of Gibbard, who manages to cover everything in a thin veil of mystery with his enigmatic lyrics and little-boy-lost vocals.
Give Up starts on a high with the wistful District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Tamborello's soundscape perfectly echoing the happy-sad ambiance created by Gibbard's mournful vocals and sing-song melody. Better still is Such Great Heights, a perfect fusion of electro-pop and prickly Drum n Bass-lite beats, coupled with a soaring melodic streak. It leaves the starstruck listener smiling from cheek to cheek, a mood broken only by the haunting Sleeping In, an emotional account of the shooting of JFK with a nagging, plaintive vocal hook that won't leave your head for days.
After this breathless opening, the Service drop down a gear with a clutch of pretty, ever so slightly less memorable tunes - each worthy of attention, if perhaps a little less adulation than the first three. However, the bar is raised once more for the last two tracks: Brand New Colony an infectious slice of skittery elctronic pop, and the closing Natural Anthem a brooding, paranoid walk through the darkest recesses of Tamborello's mind. Truthfully, this is one of the best records to emerge from last year, and its lack of ubiquity can only be explained by poor-marketing on the part of their record label, a heinous crime meaning that this daring, brilliant record was heard only by a lucky few. Join us.