After nearly two decades of writing music it’s about time Benjamin Gibbard, frontman of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, stepped out to release a solo album. While I fully expected a solemn, fairly depressing release after his recent divorce from actress/musician Zooey Deschanel, what filled my speakers were upbeat melodies and hopeful love songs.
“Former Lives” draws a bit from all of Gibbard’s influences. “Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke)” is a blend of country, folk and mariachi while “Teardrop Windows” has hints of ’60s pop shimmering through its verses. Then you’ve got a piano ballad, “Duncan, Where Have You Gone,” and a duet with singer-songwriter Aimee Mann in “Bigger Than Love.”
Not every aspect of the album is unexpected though. Each song is still indie-pop at their core, as Gibbard didn’t completely leave his comfort zone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you enjoy his previous projects. You’ll sing along as Gibbard croons “Lily’s the Pacific ocean/ and I’m standing at her shores/ Lily she is never ending/ there’s so much left in store,” in “Lily” just as you’ll tap along to the energetic “A Hard One To Know.”
Overall, the album is a pleasant one to listen to. It’s perfect for lazy Sundays or background music, but I’m not sure if it will be all too memorable. Still, I’d recommend picking it up when it’s released Oct. 16, especially if you’re a fan of Gibbard’s past work.