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Showing 1-10 of 49 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 66 reviews
on November 29, 2012
I started listening to Ben Gibbard about a year ago when I discovered The Postal Service, which I loved. After a while I started listening to Death Cab for Cutie, and that's now my very favorite band. I think Ben Gibbard is a very talented person, and this solo record proves that. All in all, it was a well-executed album with a wide range of musical styles that most people, especially fans of The Postal Service and Death Cab, will enjoy listening to.

Shepherd's Bush Lullaby: (5.75/10) I really wanted to like this one, but it was just so strange I couldn't take it seriously. It wasn't really bad, but it was just so weird with its "bum-bum-bum" thing going on in the background and its extreme briefness that I didn't like it all that much. But it's still worth a listen, and I like it, but I don't LOVE it.

Dream Song: (8.5/10) This song perfectly illustrates the creepy feeling of dreams. Musically, it reminded me a lot of "Different Names For The Same Thing" of the DCFC album Plans. The best part of the song is the out-of-sync piano/keyboard solo during the instrumental part. It adds to the creepy-but-happy feel of the song.

Teardrop Windows: (8.5/10) This song is a more acoustic track that is one of the least Death Cab-like songs on the album. The lyrics are pretty downer, but you wouldn't know because the upbeat guitar and vocal style give this song a more cheerful feel. I've heard this song is about the Smith Tower in Seattle ("in 1962/ the Needle made its big debut" possibly referring to the Space Needle and "when the sun sets over the Sound he just goes to sleep" possibly referring to the Puget Sound) but I don't know for sure. This is one of the best tracks on the album, but gets old after a while.

Bigger Than Love: (9.25/10) This could very well be the best song on the album-- just about neck-and-neck with "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)". Aimee Mann makes an appearance on this duet track. Her voice clashed a bit with Ben's, and I feel like they should have gotten a different singer to sing with him (maybe the girl from "Nothing Better"?), and I would've given this song a 10 out of 10 if they had. The electric guitar and lo-fi sounds give this song a very Death Cab for Cutie feel, and won't disappoint fans of The Postal Service, either.

Lily: (8.75/10) This one is very sweet, and a great song. It's not at all Death Cab for Cutie or The Postal Service, but it fits Ben very nicely. It's very simple, musically, and one of Ben's happier songs. The only thing I didn't like about it was how short it was. It could have used an extra verse, because right when you go from liking the song to loving it, it ends. If it was maybe thirty seconds longer, it could have been 10 out of 10.

Something's Rattling (Cowpoke): (9.5/10) Like "Bigger Than Love", this could be the best song on the album. I liked the subtle use of mariachi trumpets and soft "ooh-ooh-ooh"s in this track. It had a very outer-space theme, and made me think of a cute kids' picture book about space or the moon or something like that. This is a great song, with great instrumental background sounds, and beautiful vocalizations by Ben.

Duncan, Where Have You Gone?: (5.25/10) It's okay, this one is my very least favorite track on the album. It sounded like it could be on some sad Charlie Brown show where Charlie Brown is sad about something and walking home in the rain or something like that. It's a bit cheesy. I did like the guitar solos and lo-fi quality, though.

Oh, Woe: (6.5/10) Like "Teardrop Windows", this is a sad song hidden behind happy and upbeat instrumentals. This song didn't stand out much to me, but it's still worth a listen. I think the words would have worked much better paired with less happy and upbeat instrumentals. It follows in the footsteps of Death Cab's more recent stuff (like Codes And Keys), but isn't quite there.

A Hard One To Know: (8/10) This is one of the album's stronger tracks, and tells the story of a wishy-washy girlfriend. It's the indie non-teenybopper version of Katy Perry's "Hot N Cold" (Not that I'm comparing Ben to Katy Perry, I'm not, just the lyrics of their songs). The Care Bears-like keyboard solo and the way Ben sings " Cause you're a ha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ard one to know" are some of the highlights of this song.

Lady Adelaide: (8/10) A very sweet, tropical song. The xylophone/mallet solo, shakers/maracas, and the claves (just guessing on the instruments they used here...) give it a very tropical feel. It's hard to believe that this is Ben, because this is so so so different than Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, but it's a very solid song.

Broken Yolk In Western Sky: (8/10) The book "The Red Pony" is brought to mind when I listen to this song. It's a good song, and very different from the other tracks on the album with its steel guitar and country feel, and is very satisfying, if a little cheesy.

I'm Building A Fire: (9/10) This is one of the better tracks on the album, and made me think of "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" off Plans. It's a very good closer for the album, and I can imagine this song being sung around a campfire (hence the name "I'm Building A Fire"...). It's pretty sad, and if you're the type to cry during songs, you'll probably cry hearing this one.

Overall, I liked this album. The variety on this album is just so wide that it's hard to put it into a genre, and I can't imagine anyone singing these songs but Ben Gibbard. If Ben comes out with a second solo record, I'll probably get that one too.
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on October 30, 2012
I'm not a Ben Gibbard fanboy, so I can't recite all the projects he's been in and how he's developed as a musician. I got into Death Cab via one of the very few times I listened to the radio, and I eventually got all their stuff. I took a chance on the solo effort here, and was not disappointed. And I do not generally enjoy the solo efforts of a single band member over the collective effort. In fact, the only other one I could take to was Neil Finn.

Anywho, this for me is just very solid, reliable folk-type music. The western bent on two songs was not expected, but it totally works. It's not Death Cab, but I actually like this a little better than the Codes and Keys release. It's isn't an epic work like Pink Floyd's The Wall or anything, but I've had it on in the car for a few days now, and all of the songs are eminently enjoyable. I haven't encountered a track that I felt I wanted to delete, which is also rare for me lately. In fact, I've usually been humming one of them in my head.

The short version? A steal at $6. You won't regret it.
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on October 17, 2012
This is a great first solo album by Death Cab for Cutie's front man. I'm a big Death Cab fan and I feel that this album stands up well against the other CDs that I have come to love from that band, as well as the Postal Service project. The lyrics and music have the same characteristic poignant/sweet/melancholy tone that we have come to expect from this talented musician. There's even a duet with Aimee Mann, another favorite artist of mine, and the two sound great together. I strongly feel that most Death Cab fans will enjoy this album. The only downside I would say is that it's a little short in length (I like when albums are at least 45 minutes long - that way I feel like I'm getting my money's worth) but clocking in at about 37 minutes or so this album feels like a polished little gem, and it's worth every penny.
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on November 16, 2014
I really enjoyed this album. If you are thinking of buying it just because you like Death Cab, don't do it. It has nothing to do with any of their records- maybe a little Codes and Keys vibe to it, but that's it.
However, I found it to be one of Gibbard's best albums, if not 'the' best. There are a couple of amazing songs- "Broken Yolk in Western Sky", "Lady Adelaide", or "Teardrop Window". It includes collaborations with a few other artists, including ex-wife Zooey Deschanel in "Something's Rattling", a mariachi-like song that will bring a smile to your face.
9/10.
Well done, Ben.
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on December 7, 2012
I've liked Benjamin Gibbard and his work with Death Cab. It's hard not to be drawn to his unique voice. But in this solo album he explores in ways that, in hindsight, feel strangely liberated from his work with the band. The range of approach to songs is wonderful, like each one is a new gift to open. And yet this is one of those albums that is all too rare these days, an album on which the songs connect and are interwoven with each other. And no one writes such thoughtful lyrics as this guy. In an age of flash trends and songs of the moment, it is truly a treat to listen to this album, but even more to know it will log itself as a favorite for a long, long time to come.
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on November 20, 2012
I absolutely love Ben. Death Cab is my favorite band, I love the Postal Service, and all his other projects he's done over the years have never been a disappointment. I was so happy to find out he was doing his first solo album. And Former Lives did not disappoint one bit. It's got a different feel to it than some of his other things, but it's still got that Ben-Gibbard-goodness that I love. His voice is so amazing, and his lyrics are always so beautiful and meaningful. So it's a nice mix of something new and different (in a good way) and his same old style. I have fallen in love with all of the songs (if I had to pick a few favorites, I'd go with "Lily", "I'm Building a Fire", and "Lady Adelaide") and I highly recommend this album.
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on October 18, 2012
I just can't get enough Ben Gibabrd, and haven't been able to since I first heard "Soul Meets Body" in 2005. Everything he touches musically is gold. He absolutely is my favorite songwriter and has been for years, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. This album is a must have if you like any of his solo acoustic covers (or originals). "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)" is a very unexpected and pleasant surprise. "Lily" is a beautiful love song with very heartfelt lyrics. "Duncan, Where Have You Gone?" is another different and surprising direction that Gibbard nails beautifully. And the whole album is lyrically and melodically enjoyable. So, yeah, I recommend it.
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on March 11, 2013
People who expect a Deathcab for Cutie (transatlanticism era) sound just because he is divorced will be let down. This is a growth album that has his style and lyrical skill just in a new and playful way. Their are sad tracks that have a classic Gibbs feel, some that sound like they could Fit into Codes and Keys and some that are a whole new sound. For people who are fans of Ben Gibbard will love it. People who are old school Death Cabbies will have issues, but it is a solid album and a nice step for the great artist Ben Gibbard is.
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on January 20, 2014
I am a Death Cab fan since Transatlanticism and also really enjoyed the recent Codes and Keys. This album I would put in its own class similar to the partnering with Jay Farrar on One Fast Move Or I'm Gone.

In this case the songs are a bit slower and more country flavored then Death Cab songs typically are, but are really good both lyrically and more down to earth musically. If you enjoy Ben Gibbards voice then this is for you. Oddly my favorite is "Bigger then love" which starts out with Aimee Mann singing.
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on February 18, 2016
Like Ben's Postal Service collaboration it's not exactly the stock DCFC sound and took me a few listens for it to grow on me. But now I can't stop listening to it, love it just as much his other work. So would totally recommend and if you're a DCFC fan and it doesn't click right away, give it some time.
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