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4.7 out of 5 stars
Give Up
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Postal Service had an unusual start. No, not THAT postal service, but the unique band that turned out the indie-electronic "Give Up."
It's the sort of band story that magazines love: Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard and Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello exchanged tapes through the mail, sculpting sweet, melancholy trip-hop into this enchanting, low-key pop masterpiece.
It starts off on strong footing with the melancholy, angelic-voiced "District Sleeps Alone Tonight" with its solemn organ opener. The second song is even stronger -- the sparkling, upbeat "Such Great Heights," an adoring love song from a guy to his on-the-road girlfriend. "They will see us waving/from such great heights/come down now!/they'll say/but everything looks perfect from far away..."
With such a great opener, the rest of the album is almost garuanteed to be lackluster. But Gibbard and Tamborello manage to keep the quality up with the delicate "Sleeping In," ethereal "Nothing Better," and the dreamily majestic "Recycled Air" with its backdrop of string-like synth. "Give Up" ends on a slightly darker note with the dark, grittier "This Place is a Prison" and the fast-paced but strange "Brand New Colony," before finishing off with the magnificently cacophonous "Natural Anthem."
"Give Up" was originally recorded in a rather weird way, with Gibbard and Tamborello exchanging packages with recorded CDs inside. Not your typical way of making music, and some might have scoffed at this unorthodox method. But it pays off beautifully -- the melodious poppy sound of Postal Service is absolutely intoxicating. It's a perfect mix of beats, clicks, dreamy synth and sweet vocals. Gibbard's clear voice is a little sad, and contemplative, and is backed up in some songs by Jen Wood and Jenny Lewis.
The lyrics are beautiful, romantic and heartfelt ("I am finally seeing/why I was the one worth leaving..."), often evoking a slightly otherworldly feeling, not tied in with the world as we know it. It brings up dark cities, flying couples, gaudy apartments and places where things are sad and a little dreamy. The keyboard arrangements are shimmering, guitar riffs are steady and solid, and a cluster of other instruments (organ and horn) surface and vanish seamlessly.
"Give Up" both satisfies a musical hunger and leaves you wanting more. Proving that innovation is NOT dead in the music biz, the Postal Service is a fantastic breath of fresh air. Dreamy, a little depressed, but uplifting and sweet.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2006
If you are in any doubt about buying this album do so now. I have only had it two days and it has been on constantly at home, at work and in my car since I got it. Jimmy Tamborello has excelled himself and the tracks are fantastic. Ben Gibbard's vocals enhance the mood of each track perfectly and his lyrics tell some amazing stories. Every track is fantastic with the album starting off on a bouncy happy footing with the last three tracks showing a darker side of this duo. Such great heights and Clark Gable are stand out tracks for me but really its just a stand out album all the way through.

Buy this album, buy it now!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2005
Frrsh from having been threatened with a lawsuit byt eh US Postal Service for usign their name (the situationw as resolved when they played at the latter's Christmas do), this album (and its trck We Will Become Silhouettes) has belatedly broken through in the US, finding a gap among the wall-to-wall R&B and hip-hop to offer something genuinely unique among modern popular music. The irony is that the album was only ever a side-project, and with DCFC having recorded and toured since, this may be the only album they ever do, which would be a great shame.
Electronica and emo are not obvious bedfellows, but the best elements of both are combined skilfully by the dynamic duo. Such Great Heights is a great example - a pleasing and uptempo beat with meta-referential lyrics ("I tried my best to leave this all on your machine, but the persistant beat sounded thin upon listening"). Nothing Better is a terrific boy-girl duet of the classic boy-loves-girl-but-she-doesn't-want-to-know situation, which gains added impetus when you contrast Gillard's "tell me am I right to think that there could be nothing better than making you my bride and slowly growing old together" with guess singer Jenny Lewis' "you've got allure I can't deny, but you've had your chance, oh say goodbye, say goodbye".
A few songs go for a softer tempo, contrasting between the love song Recycled Air ("I've atched the patchwork farm slow fade into the ocean's arms, calm down, release your cares, the stale taste of recycled air" is certainly a fresh lyricism, literally), and the considered This Place Is A Prison looks at the futility of mindless non-stop partying. The album closes with some straight drum 'n' bass, with just a short vocal section (another meta-referential one, in fact), but which time most people's worst prejudices about electronic music will be gone. As a whole the album is not only perfect disposable pop music, but also has some impressive depth and invention - it really covers all bases, and has something for every mood and situation. Can I finish by saying that they've delivered a first-class album?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2006
The first time I heard any Postal Service tracks I have to say I wasnt too impressed, apart from the excellent 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight'. However, eventually, i learned to like a number of the Service's song, and eventually took the plunge and bought Give Up. It was surprisingly awesome. NOt my usual cup of tea, to be honest, electronica and beats etc. But this has got to be one of the must-own albums for any emo or indie fan of the first few years of the 21st century. It simply suffices to say that pretty much all the tracks, apart from possibly the dark, 'This Place Is A Prison,' are standout tracks.'The DIstrict Sleeps Alone Tonight' builds up into an emo dance beat, guaranteed to get you grooving, whereever you are: car, living room, on the loo...'Recycled Air' and 'We Will Become Silhouettes' are relatively chilled out tracks, and there is the signature electronic riffs of 'Such Great Heights,' and 'Brand New Colony.' An excellent album-hopefully there's more to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2005
This is the sort of album who's brilliance and beauty slowly creeps up on you. At the first couple of listens, I concentrated on the more anthemic songs, like Such Great Heights and The District... but then I started listening more and more, exploring the other tracks, and found every single one to be a gem in its own right. Lyrically, compositionally and atmospherically every song works. This is an album I'll never grow tired of.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A marvelous combination of tender vocals and electronic warbling, "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" has to be one of the best songs of the year so far. The rest of the album doesn't always live up to it but there are a few gems and no duds. This album is well worth getting if you're getting fed up with "garage" bands copying imitations of imititations of The Stooges and fancy something a little different.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2004
This first album from the "Postal Service" is a very promising start. When I first bought this it was never out my cd player for weeks. It contains an extensive use of electronics throughout yet the music is almost impossible to categorise into a specific genera. The single "Such Great Heights" combines catchy electro beats and synths with lyrics that suit the mood of the music perfectly. Other standout tracks include "Nothing Better", also containing powerful lyrics. On a negative note, the later half of the album does take a downward turn but at the end revives itself with the industrial "natural anthem". Their music reminds me of a modern day Kraftwerk and I would certainly recommend this to anyone who has a fondness for electronica of any form.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 May 2003
When a friend first told me about this I was so curious I just had to hear it, and it doesnt disappoint. Give Up is what happens when you mix beautiful electronica, lo-fi atmospherics and emo tendencies. As soon as the backing vocals come in on 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight'(at about 10 seconds) you know your listening to a great record.It is very hard to find fault here, even 'Nothing Better' which at times sounds like Human League playing GameBoys is wonderfully tender and sweet - like Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips at their poppiest. Don't be surprised if the Flips' sound isnt a million miles away from this on their next album. Put simply - the Postal Service certainly delivers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2005
The Postal Service first came to my attention a while ago when I heard a remix of "the district..", but to the best of my knowledge they are still largely unknown, I think partly because of the relative lack of publicity on the part of sub-pop and the media in general. People tend to know Ben Gibbard as part of Death Cab For Cutie, and perhaps Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) but not this joint-project, which is less a band in the conventional sense than a brilliantly successful example of genre-fusing; principally "emo" and "electronica".

This might seem like an unusual combination (indeed, the collaboration occurred entirely via post, hence the name) but the result is fantastic.
Right from the opener, "the district sleeps...", all the songs have a beautiful dreamy quality, characterised by Mr Gibbard's wistful vocal over a lush soundscape of electronic, glitchy, sweeping noise. Such a description probably doesn't do the album full justice yet the resulting effect is magnificent.
Highly recommended - I just wish there were a few more than 10 tracks on the LP. Still, the maxim was obviously quality over quantity, certainly something the Postal Service have collectively achieved. Highlights include "such great heights", "sleeping in", "the district...", "clark gable", "brand new colony" and "natural anthem".
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