Give Up

Give Up


Give Up is the debut album by electronic pop duo The Postal Service. Released on February 19, 2003, it was the second Sub Pop Records release to receive gold certification, and was Sub Pop's best selling album since Nirvana's Bleach. The album peaked at #114 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and sold over 650,000 copies.

The band began as a side project between electronic music artist Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie's vocalist Ben Gibbard. They had previously worked together for a track on Dntel's album Life Is Full of Possibilities.

The album was generally well received, and critics commented on its throwbacks to the eighties New Wave genre.

Background and recording

The Postal Service's two members – Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and electronic music artist Jimmy Tamborello – had previously collaborated on "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan" before deciding to record a full length album together. The two worked on the album separately; in December 2001, Tamborello sent a CD-R of electronic music to Gibbard, who added melodies and wrote lyrics. He then added drums, guitar and keyboards at Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla's recording studio and sent the CD back to Tamborello. This process of mailing each other their work on the album continued; after ten months and two trips by Gibbard to Los Angeles to record vocals, the album was completed. They called themselves "The Postal Service" because of this method of trading ideas. Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis provided backup vocals after being cold called by Gibbard, who knew her when Rilo Kiley was on the same label as Death Cab for Cutie. The track "Nothing Better" also features Jen Wood.

Release and tour

Give Up was released February 19, 2003 on Sub Pop Records in the U.S. It was awarded a gold certification on March 10, 2005, the second Sub Pop record ever to do so. It was later released in the UK on April 23, 2003. , it has sold over 650,000 copies.

The album led to three singles; "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", "Such Great Heights" and "We Will Become Silhouettes", of which only "We Will Become Silhouettes" charted, reaching 82 on the Billboard Top 100.

In January 2006, Apple released an advertisement (for the Macbook Pro) which was said to be very similar to The Postal Service's video for "Such Great Heights". Some created videos that played the advertisement and the music video side by side to make the resemblance clear. It was later revealed that the advertisement had been created by the filmmakers who had made the music video. Ben Gibbard said on the band's website:

The band did not take legal action, but Tamborello later stated in an interview that they "got a little bit of compensation from them for it" in the form of "attention from iTunes and stuff like that".

The United States Postal Service served the band with a cease and desist letter citing tarnishing and dilution of their trademark. The band initially considered renaming themselves, but eventually came to a settlement that involved the band playing at a conference and the sale of the album in the USPS online store. Tamborello later said of their conference performance:

The band toured the U.S. from April to August 2003, including Jenny Lewis in the line-up for all but one of the performances. Lewis provided vocals where Jen Wood had sung on the album, as well as guitar and keyboards. In the sole performance that Lewis missed, a festival in Spain, friend Joan Hiller sang and Chris Walla played her guitar and keyboard parts. Death Cab for Cutie bassist Nick Harmer was in charge of the tour's visuals. Tamborello later said in an interview that Gibbard had been nervous about touring, as the audience may have been bored by what they saw as "a guy with a computer onstage". This was partly the motivation for using visual effects such as videos and lights, which included small films for each song.

Lyrics and composition

The album primarily deals with themes of love, as well as fame, history, and friendship. "Clark Gable" is about Gibbard making home movies with an ex and "Nothing Better" is a duet between a couple about to break up. Allmusic's Heather Phares compared "Nothing Better" to the Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" and Gibbard later confirmed that "Don't You Want Me?" was the inspiration for the song. Gibbard said that "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", "Brand New Colony" and "This Place Is a Prison" were the only songs that bordered on autobiographical. He went on to say that "Such Great Heights" was the only song he had ever written that was positive about love.

Critics compared it to the eighties synth and New Wave genres. Pitchfork Media's Matt LeMay and Phares both commented on the contrasts between the "cool, clean synths" and Gibbard's vocal melodies. Phares went on to liken "This Place Is a Prison" to Björk's recent works. Death Cab for Cutie had previously covered Björk's \"All Is Full of Love\" on their The Stability EP.

Critical reception

Critics were generally positive about the album. LeMay gave it a rating of 8 out of 10, calling it \"... a pretty damned strong record, and one with enough transcendent moments to forgive it its few substandard tracks and ungodly lyrical blunders\". Both LeMay and Pop Matters's Devon Powers commented on the "clichéd", "cringe-worthy" lyrics of "Sleeping In". Michaelangelo Matos of Rolling Stone said it was "a cuddly little new wave reverie", giving it 3 out of 5 stars. Phares said that whilst the album was good, it did not measure up to either Gibbard or Tamborello's main projects.

Track listing

All tracks by The Postal Service.

  1. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" – 4:44
  2. "Such Great Heights" – 4:26
  3. "Sleeping In" – 4:21
  4. "Nothing Better" – 3:46
  5. "Recycled Air" – 4:29
  6. "Clark Gable" – 4:54
  7. "We Will Become Silhouettes" – 5:00
  8. "This Place Is a Prison" – 3:54
  9. "Brand New Colony" – 4:12
  10. "Natural Anthem" – 5:07

Bonus vinyl disc

The vinyl version of Give Up was released on November 9, 2004. It came with a bonus 12" of B-sides, covers and remixes:

  1. "There's Never Enough Time"
  2. "We Will Become Silhouettes" (Performed by The Shins)
  3. "Such Great Heights" (Performed by Iron & Wine)
  4. "Suddenly Everything Has Changed" (The Flaming Lips cover)
  5. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" (DJ Downfall Persistent Beat Mix)
  6. "Such Great Heights" (John Tejada Remix)

The material found on the bonus disc is also found on the Such Great Heights EP and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight EP. No material from the We Will Become Sillhouettes EP is included on the bonus disc.

Chart positions


Billboard 200 Top Heatseekers Top Independent Albums Top Electronic Albums
114 1 3 1


Single Billboard Top 100
"We Will Become Silhouettes" 82



External links

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