photo & text by nacrowe
the INDIE ELECTRONIC duo THE POSTAL SERVICE, made up of BEN GIBBARD (DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE) and JIMMY TAMBORELLO (DNTEL), created only one record in GIVE UP (SUB POP, 2003), but its influence very much reverberates to the present day. its creation was famously done remotely via sending CD-Rs back and forth to each other through the mail (thus the band moniker) in a manner that predates stems sent over e-mail today, which has only further grown to become a staple of the recording experience during the pandemic.
i am probably naive, but this process seemed pretty NOVEL at the time and the results were surprisingly COHESIVE and sonically spectacular. this record really did split the middle between SYNTH POP and INDIE ROCK and was a massive crossover success at the time with MEMORABLE tracks like "CLARK GABLE," "THE DISTRICT SLEEPS ALONE TONE," "WE WIL BECOME SILHOUETTES" and "SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS." it was at once retro in its aural palette of synths and drum machines, but fervently of-the-moment in its memorable melodies courtesy of GIBBARD who was very much of the zeitgeist at that moment in the early 2000s.
this record was indelible to me since i knew about its themes of DISTANCE and LONGING that were part of its creation. at the time of its release i was in my second year of college and two years removed from having to leave someone i cared about abruptly back during my senior year of high school in the wake of 9/11. i hated living in KUWAIT until i met someone. then all the political, social and cultural bullshit just kind became muted and got dislodged somewhere unnoticed in the background. meeting this person felt transformative. 9/11 happened two weeks later and i was subsequently shipped off to live with a relative in CALIFORNIA. physically i was in SACRAMENTO but mentally i was still in some science class sitting next to a cute junior. it sucked. we spoke twice a month for two years but it was hard not being there. havent had that experience since and i hope i never do.
it was beyond excruciating letting go. as a young person that process of moving on was a brutal learning experience, especially since it all felt beyond my control.
when GIVE UP came out i immediately understood that disabling sense of confused emotions that comes with distance immediately and inherently. i still find this record hard to listen to for that reason, which is funny because it is quite the compelling upbeat pop record and is widely celebrated for such. but as someone who lived abroad for many years at a time the record is a reminder of what it is like to be away from those that you care for and that need to just let go.
in some fashion my whole life feels like a series of goodbyes at this point. im certain thats universal. great record. highly recommended.