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Comment: 100% Satisfaction! Good condition, former library copy with usual markings, plays cleanly, may have a few minor scratches, some wear to case, does not include inserts, packaged well and ships fast with tracking number.
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Former Lives

4.6 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 16, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Other cities, other plans; different friends, different dreams; former loves, former lives. After fifteen years in Death Cab for Cutie, Ben Gibbard didn't make his first solo album in search of a new beginning; instead, it closes a door. ''These songs span eight years, three relationships, living in two different places, drinking then not drinking'' he says of the dozen tracks that comprise Former Lives. ''They're a side story, not a new chapter.''
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 16, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barsuk
  • ASIN: B00936A0WA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,860 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: MP3 Music
I came into Ben Gibbard's first solo album as a casual fan -- I mostly enjoyed his Postal Service project, and there are moments when Death Cab for Cutie can hit dazzling heights with their music. However, I've never really been captivated by his voice or lyrics. I went into FORMER LIVES with no real expectations -- I just had no idea what to expect: would it be electronic pop? Bare-bones singer-songwriter fare? Death-Cab-Style Power-pop? It turns out that the Death Cab for Cutie front-man's first solo album is a good effort, but it's missing the spark that his projects carry.

FORMER LIVES starts with the enigmatic "Shepherd's Bush Lullaby," a track just shy of a minute long that mostly consists of a capella performance. The next track though is a bit more representative of the album's sound: "Dream Song" is a mostly uptempo ballad that's interrupted with some dreamy textures periodically. Most of the songs on the album follow this sound: generally uptempo middle-of-the-road rock-n-roll that have occasional flashes of texturing or experimentation. The tunes here are very melodic, and it really feels like Gibbard spent a lot of time trying to craft these songs -- these songs' meat-and-potatoes approaches work well, but they might leave fans of Death Cab for Cutie's experimental side wanting. The lyrics here range from the good to the great -- Gibbard, going through a high-profile separation from a certain famous actress, seems to have plenty of things to say here (CODES AND KEYS seemed to lack any real emotional focal point that other albums carried). "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)" stands out like a sore-thumb with its mariachi horns -- the sound really doesn't work for the singer-songwriter no matter how subtle he tries to be with it.
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For a first foray into work fully by himself Ben really tossed out some good stuff. A lot of it are songs that fans of Death Cab have gotten to listen to for awhile now at live shows and such, but for the most part no one has heard these songs and they aren't the subject of much attention. They should be though. Ben (Benjamin? Really man, we all know its you) has gotten an opportunity that is long overdue. Between Death Cab for Cutie's discography, the album with Jay Ferrar as a soundtrack to the novel Big Sur (One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Music From Kerouac's Big Sur), and the ever iconic Give Up from the Postal Service (seriously, fans clamor for a second album from that duo like salivating animals) Ben has established himself as a simplistic yet personal lyricist and singer that reminds us all of the simpler aspects of life while the world flies by around you. Songs like "Passenger Seat" or the amazing "Brand New Colony" are amazing and this album has added a set of disjointed but excellent tracks to his set. In fact the only thing that makes this album anything less than perfect is that they are all odd and different experiments that don't always perfectly flow, but the songs hold up on their own for the most part.

1. Shepherd's Bush Lullaby - 6/10: This is a bit of an odd opener and my least favorite song on the album. Its ok, but it just layers Ben's voice on top of itself to create a bit of a an acapella group effect. Its a decent idea, but not as well executed as I'd hoped for.
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I listened to this album on Youtube before it came out and have listened to it several times since I received it and I think it's great. I'm a long time fan of all of Gibbard's projects (Death cab, Postal Service, All-time Quarterback) and this album certainly lived up to what I have come to expect from him. It's a fairly mellow album, certainly not over-produced (according to the album insert, the first song was recorded on an iPhone- granted it's A Capella). Fan's of Death Cab for Cutie will NOT be disappointed.
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I didn't realize he was making a solo album until I saw the iTunes "Pick of the Week" card with his single "Teardrop Windows". He also did a "Tiny Desk Concert" with NPR which I caught some of. I finally bought this album, and was definitely not disappointed.

Overall, the theme of the album is classic Gibbard, with songs about love and loss written in his characteristically poetic manner. However, the instrumentals struck me as much more catchy and upbeat than the Death Cab for Cutie stuff--a little more indie pop and less abstract. I actually like that a lot.

Some albums are kind of "difficult" to listen to in full--there's a few great songs and the rest never really captures my attention. This is most assuredly not one of those albums. Every song has something catchy about it that makes it worth the listen. I get the feeling that this is a carefully curated album of the best of the unused songs he's written over the years.

Of course there's always a few favorites. "Teardrop Windows" was a good choice of single as it clearly draws a line between the Death Cab sound and the Benjamin Gibbard sound. There's parts of it that echo "Crooked Teeth" with it's melodic guitar riffs and upbeat drum tempo, but it also has an elegant simplicity that's uniquely his. "Dream Song" is another standout with it's piano solo, and "You're A Hard One to Know" deserves an honorable mention for it's compellingly honest lyrics. There's a lot of people who would speculate that the latter was written about his recent divorce. Not sure about that, but it does make for a great song.

Overall, this was a very impressive album. I wouldn't call it a departure from the expected Death Cab for Cutie fare, but it does have a lot of musicality that I wouldn't have expected. Great solo album, and I hope there will be more to come in the future.
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