Benjamin Gibbard is no stranger to music. Besides his main band Death Cab for Cutie, he’s also done a successful side project, The Postal Service. To top it off, he’s released a solo album. Former Lives was released October 16th
and since then I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.
Coming off a divorce from Zoey Deschanel, I figured this album would be a bummer and mostly about the divorce. While some songs may have had a theme of a broken heart, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not a break up album.
One song that really stood out to me was a duet with Aimee Mann called “Bigger Than Love.” This song acts out a couple discussing their relationship and how some things in life are “bigger than love.” This is not the first duet Gibbard has done. He paired up with Jenny Lewis for the song “Nothing Better” released by The Postal Service. Though the song is a beautiful collection of emotions from both, I believe it is Mann’s somber voice that really brings out the passion in the song.
Gibbard took some chances with his solo album and dabbled in different genres. The song “Lily” is short, sweet and acoustic, something I think Gibbard does extraordinarily well. The track is a cozy and inviting love song that gets straight to the point. This song is sure to make every Indie lover’s Valentine mix this year.
“Teardrop Windows” makes me think of ’60s California rock. I could easily picture a band like The Beach Boys playing this song. It has that easy going vibe with surf rock guitars to back it up, although this is not a track I’d play at a beach party. This is one of the more mainstream tracks on the album.
Train isn’t the only band that using mariachi bands in their music nowadays! Gibbard took a big chance featuring the classic Latin sound in what I would describe as a “Tex-Mex country tune.” Sound like an odd mix? This one didn’t exactly resonate with me, but you’ve got to give the guy credit for taking a chance.
Mixing classic rock with folk rock, Gibbard hits a home run with “Broken Yolk in Western Sky.” This is one song that I think gives an insight to how he dealt with his divorce. With lyrics like “My love is like some kind of greed of equal portions want and need,” you feel the internal struggle he may have been fighting throughout the divorce process. One of my favorite things about Benjamin Gibbard and his music is the heart and honesty he puts into his songs. They feel genuine and relatable to the listener.
With the release of his solo album, does this mean the end of Death Cab for Cutie? My guess is no, but it’s safe to say that if the band did decide to part, Gibbard will be able to stand on his own using this album as a good foundation for a successful solo career.
Written by: Katie Sperduti