Ben Gibbard's latest album did not ignite a period of overwhelming anticipation or eagerness among fans. In fact, the Death Cab for Cutie frontman's first solo album, Former Lives
, was even kept hush from his manager, and closest friends.
"It was nice to work on something that nobody knew about. It was something I was making for myself," Gibbard explained to Baeble in an exclusive interview
. Indeed, Former Lives
is a compilation of his history. The album plays like a series of ripped out diary entries of the past decade. Death Cab and Postal Service fans will feel that same sense of comfort in the always alluring verses, and will surely appreciate a rooted Gibbard, in a more personal manner.
This soothingly whimsical album starts off with "Shepherd's Bush Lullaby," a short, fun a cappella ballad. This track does not necessarily foreshadow the album, but it does serve as a quirky introduction. The next track, "Dream Song" brings listeners back to his roots, instilling a sense of nostalgia among them.
Throughout the compilation, we aren't really given a specifically "new style", but Ben Gibbard is proving that a solo debut doesn't require a complete change of style. Some of the songs he has been performing for years, and this confidence is radiating. Amidst the melancholic ode "Teardrop Windows," he brings in a heavier sound carried along by high pitched guitar riffs, giving the track just the right tinge of energy.
The blissful track "Lily" sounds like the daughter of "I Will Follow you into the Dark," or perhaps, the honeymoon stage of that relationship. The soft, metaphorical lyrics held by the light tambourine suggest it came about just before the release of Plans
, somewhere in the early 2000s. Of course, with the mysticism surrounding the album and Gibbard's lyrics, we can never be too quick to infer. "I think a lot of people are trying to connect dots, and I would never speak on anyone connecting dots correctly or incorrectly."
"Oh, Woe" highlights his theme of hurting love. Although it yields to his comfort zone, it is yet another track that illustrates the Benjamin Gibbard his fans know and admire. And as far as comfort zones go, the farthest Gibbard gets away from it is in his lightly folk ballad "Broken Yolk in Western Sky," where he attributes his time on the road with Jay Farrar as an influence. Still grasping his irrefutable song writing capability, Gibbard embraces the "less is more" concept in the studio. "if there's one thing that I'm starting to connect with less in modern music, it's the overabundance of sound, production, tracks and stuff happening on modern recordings."
serves as a reminder to fans the reasons Gibbard's music is loved: for its sheer authenticity. While new paths are seemingly unclear on this debut solo album, the unmistakable, poetic Gibbard does not hide behind any track. Perhaps he has some new technique up his sleeve, hidden from the rest of the world. But until then, we can sit back and commend Gibbard's picturesque capabilities.