Review: “Former Lives” by Benjamin Gibbard


My love for the music of Benjamin Gibbard peaked with the release of “Plans” by Death Cab For Cutie. I’ve loved the two records the band released since but the special connection I once had with his music faded with time. This being said I still put “Transatlantacism” and “Plans” on quite a big pedestal and see those two records as some of the best music released from 2000 to 2012.

This brings me to Gibbards solo album “Former Lives” which I picked up with excitement. I’ll admit I had read little press about this album and formed an assumption that the album itself may be a return to the electro swoon of The Postal Service. It is quite clear upon listening to “Former Lives” that this is not the case.

The album is a nice collection of songs that don’t exactly do anything too new and all of those Gibbardisms are peppered throughout the entire album. This is storytelling songwriting circa 2012 and Gibbard is clearly one of the best examples of this vehicle of musical communication in our modern era.

I must admit I was very underwhelmed with what I heard, but for some reason once the album ended I found myself pressing repeat hoping to find the ache buried deep somewhere underneath the cowboy hat. Unfortunately I never found it but I did discover an artist who has grown up and started to make the crossover to becoming one of those important musical figures who survived. This album is very country and western in the vein of Ryan Adams. I love that sound, but my own expectations were the enemy of enjoyment when I was listening to “Former Lives.” I’m still trying to understand if this type of sound suits Gibbard who I always put in a more Morrissey or Robert Smith category. All that being said the songs sweep by perfectly sticking to your standard verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus mantra and they all have amazing lyrics which help frame the emotion of each song.

Benjamin Gibbard is an artist who I am glad exists because I still get enjoyment from music that he makes. It may not always hit that part of me that his earlier material did but he still crafts beautiful music that attacks your heart. “Former Lives” isn’t saying anything new but it doesn’t have too when you have such an established voice. This is nice music for neat people and the kind of summer soundtrack that will no doubt fuel many a relationship breakdown or fresh new kisses.

8 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10


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