The Postal Service’s concept is like my dream come true. An, in my opinion, fantastic song writer pairs up with an electronic genius to create what else but fantastically written electronic music. Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie fame and Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello were the creators of this project, named The Postal Service because of their long distance musical relationship. Gibbard would write melodies and lyrics and then send them across the country to Tamborello, who would then add synthesizers and beats. This process eventually led to the completion of the duo’s debut Give Up
. During the promotion for the now Gold record the duo released three EPs all featuring one of three singles on them. Possibly the best song on the album “Such Great Heights” and it’s accompanying b-sides make up the most interesting of the three.
Such Great Heights
itself is a great song. Found in many commercials, as the song is superb. The song begins with an ambient keyboard line and ends the same way. Sandwiched between is a great song. Distorted bass snyths, keyboard blips and a simple drum beat set the base for Ben’s poetic lyrics about the relationship he is currently in, and how everything looks perfect from far away but it really isn’t. When the chorus bursts in Gibbard’s voice jumps a few notes up and sings the melody that has been stuck in my head for the past week. The song has more pop-appeal then anything the band had created before (together and separate) which in turn helped the CD out sell both of the duos member’s previous works (that is until Death Cab’s Plans
The Postal Service isn’t the highlight of the EP though. They play on only two of the EP’s four tracks. Instead of having DJ’s come in to remix other album cuts TPS decided to have their label mates cover two songs. The songs, being the uber-cool “We Will Become Silhouettes” and what else but “Such Great Heights” with indie-pop icons, The Shins and bearded singer songwriter Iron & Wine taking up the covering duties. Both artists do a great job with their songs. Anyone who knows either of the bands can tell their versions are much more acoustic, with The Shins playing with a full acoustic band (Dual acoustic guitars, electric bass and standard drums) and Iron & Wine playing his cover solely on a finger picked acoustic guitar.
Watch any commercials lately? M&M’s recently bought the rights to Iron & Wine’s version of Such Great Heights to put it their stupid commercial about chocolate being better in color. It was also used in the movie Garden State (much better than any commercial). Both companies have good reason for picking I&W’s version over The Postal Service’s, for one it’s arguably better. It’s much more melodic, and truly beautiful. Sam Beam’s, Iron & Wines sole member, voice is relaxing, pretty and melodic. He hits every note perfectly and ends up stealing the EP from The Postal Service. His guitar work is just as great. Beam’s minimalist makeover ends up turning Such Great Heights from a great electronic pop song to a beautiful work of art. The Shins attempt to do the same with “We Will Become Silhouettes” but don’t come nearly as close to surpassing the original as Iron & Wine. What they do though is turn the song into their own, which makes for quite the fun listen.
Also included on the EP is the B-Side “There’s Never Enough Time”. Unlike the rest of the EP this song is questionable. At first I couldn’t stand it, but after a while it has grown on me. The song begins with a quirky keyboard melody and quiet Casio drum beat and eventually a quiet bass line and some hushed vocals begin. The vocals are so quiet it is almost impossible to make out what Gibbard is saying. Midway through the song comes a light guitar part which then dissolves and Gibbard comes back with the same quiet vocals. After a few listens I’ve decided this song is actually quite good.
The “Such Great Heights” EP isn’t required listening. Nothing The Postal Service has ever done is, but if anything ‘Give Up’ should be in your stereo not this. I would only recommend this to someone who is infatuated with the duo’s debut or has access to a quick, free download of it available. All three bands deliver quite a performance, but the fact that most of the EP is available elsewhere and its length makes it not quite worth the buy. It still is a good EP though: 3/5.