In 2001, Benjamin Gibbard of the Seattle indie-rock band Death Cab for Cutie collaborated with Jimmy Tamborello, aka glitch-popper Dntel, on “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan,” a track on Dntel’s album Life Is Full of Possibilities. Combining Gibbard’s plaintive vocals with Tamborello’s static, pings, and tinny beats, the song became a hit in both indie and IDM circles; a remix by German microhouse producer Superpitcher, all opiated synth drone and ghost bells, was an underground dance smash. Give Up (Sub Pop), the new album the duo has recorded under the name Postal Service, is more upbeat than either the original “Evan and Chan” or the remix. In essence, it’s an early-80s synth-pop record, stuffed with sprightly keyboard hooks, from the ping-ponging figures that frame “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” and “Such Great Heights” to the trancey synth glide of “Recycled Air.” Gibbard’s lyrics are as whimsical as the music. On “Clark Gable” he asks his ex-girlfriend to “pretend that we are in love again” so he can film her and fulfill his lifelong dream of “find[ing] a love that would look and sound like a movie.” And “Nothing Better,” a duet with Seattle singer-songwriter Jen Wood, is a charming update of the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” with Gibbard crying–“Will someone please call a surgeon / Who can crack my ribs and repair this broken heart / That you’re deserting for better company?”–and Wood rebuffing him: “You’re getting carried away feeling sorry for yourself / With these revisions and gaps in history.” Wednesday, April 23, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brian Tamborello.