REWIND: One of the very best one-album wonders of all time turns 15 this month
It is a travesty that The Postal Service only ever made one album.
Clamour for a follow-up was so loud that in 2012, the band had to come out and announce that there were no plans for a sequel to 2003's classic Give Up.
The band, made up of Death Cab for Cutie lead singer Ben Gibbard, electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello (who also performs under the name Dntel), and Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis dropped their one and only album in 2003 — 45 minutes and 10 tracks worth of bangers — before fading into the mists of time and joining The La's on the Rushmore of bands who only ever made one album.
Gibbard and Tamborello originally teamed up on the 2001 Dntel track (This Is) The Dream Of Evan and Chan, a certified banger which illustrated the powerful chemistry that the pair share with one another.
Alas, Gibbard's other band released their breakthrough album Transatlanticism in the same year as Give Up, had some of their songs featured on The OC, and we ended up with with four more Death Cab albums rather than anything new from The Postal Service. All of that is fine if you're a Death Cab for Cutie fan, but even most diehards would probably concede that a new Postal Service project would have been more interesting for us all than 2015's Kintsugi.
As it stands 15 years later, we have 10 top quality tracks from The Postal Service and it seems like that's all we're ever going to get. Each song on Give Up blends soft-touch electronica with Gibbard's often-whispered vocals, with contrasting and competing melodies that make every song an infectious burst of lo-fi, glimmering goodness.
We've ranked the five best songs from one of the best one-album wonders of all time.
This Place is a Prison
Tamborello's tweaks, riffs and runs say everything that words can't in the album's darkest moment - no small achievement when the accompaniment is up against one of emo's finest lyricists in Ben Gibbard.
Gibbard still shines though, and the forlorn refrain of "What does it take... to get a drink in this place?" absolutely hammers home the desperation beneath the sparkly electronics of the track. His thin whisper against Tamborello's hushed keys and drum machine make This Place is a Prison one of the album's more powerful tracks.
Such Great Heights
"I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned..." was an extremely popular MSN Messenger sub-header for a certain type of person circa 2003/2004 and it's very easy to understand why.
Ben Gibbard, the man responsible for writing I Will Follow You Into The Dark, always had a knack for tapping into the sappy reserves swimming around in the centre of the human heart and serving them back to us in a steaming hot mug. You know, the kind of lyrics you'd expect from a man who spent years married to Zooey Deschanel.
Such Great Heights, covered by everyone from Iron & Wine to Anderson .Paak, placed at 27 on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Songs of the Decade list. Gibbard's vocal melodies, the MIDI-ish intro and the catchy chorus all make it easy to understand why.
Ben Gibbard's knack for lyrical story-telling has been ever-present throughout his career, and Clark Gable is probably the best example of it on Give Up. The song tells the story of a man who hires his ex-girlfriend to film a short romance movie with him
Clark Gable is a track that entertains both musically and lyrically. Replete with the run-on sentence songwriting that you'd expect from Gibbard, a manipulated string intro and marching band drumbeat outro, it's one of the best songs on the album.
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Album opener The District Sleeps Alone Tonight sets the tone for the entire record, beginning with a low atmospheric buzz pierced by Gibbard's distinctively high-pitched vocals, and the melodies of back-up singer Jenny Lewis.
The song, which starts off slow, hits its tempo after Gibbard's stretched, haunting vocals lead into a punchy chorus that will live rent-free in your head for days after you've heard it. By the high-paced, double-paced crescendo of the song it's clear that Give Up is more dance club than Death Cab.
Brand New Colony
Between the Nintendo 64 opening riff of Brand New Colony and the love-letter lyrics, Brand New Colony is peak Postal Service. It's on the album's penultimate track that the group does what it does best, most especially Gibbard toughening up his vocals on the chorus to give the album its clear musical highlight.