Music News

The Many Faces of Ben Gibbard

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Ben Gibbard, the frontman of Death Cab For Cutie, is not one to be content with just one musical project.

Arguably, he possesses the once-underground equivalent of Jack White's recording and production mania, injecting it into a number of projects that stem from Death Cab itself. What we tend to forget is that Death Cab itself was once a solo project -- it was only when Barsuk Records picked up Gibbard's basement recordings that the band became a real entity.

Yet when we think "Ben Gibbard side projects," our minds invariably go straight to The Postal Service, and with good reason. It's the platinum-selling Give Up, the 2003 first-and-last debut from Gibbard and collaborator Jimmy Tambarello, that at once captivated and despaired the meta-hip alternative crowd that would soon adopt the "indie" label. Give Up helped to capture Gibbard at his creative peak, on the heels of Death Cab's Transatlanticism.

It was also 2003 that found Gibbard sharing an EP with The American Analog Set's Andrew Kenny as a part of Post-Parlo Records' Home series. Gibbard's four tracks were as simple as can be, his melancholia and yearning voice accompanied by only an acoustic guitar.

And it's here that Gibbard was arguably at his best. The standout "You Remind Me Of Home" pairs Mike Kinsella-esque imagery with slightly delayed vocals that ooze Elliott Smith, while Gibbard's cover of American Analog Set's "Choir Vandals" strips an already-sparse track down to an emotive-yet-effective skeleton of a song.

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Kristian C. Libman