Like Robert Johnson's fabled encounter with the Devil, The Postmarks stood at their own crossroads. They realized they needed to up the ante when discussions of the next record arose at a dingy bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side. After the release of their debut in 2007, their love for cinematic themes and classic pop needed to be more than that... it needed to be realized on a grand scale in a way that still said: "The Postmarks were here," scrawled across a studio wall. Bands were thrown around, movies remembered, the gods on Mt. Filmscore consulted, and at The Postmarks' feet lay the remains of an epic battle to decide the ultimate question: "What do we do for the second record?"
"I think we made a decision at that point that we wanted to go into darker territories the first album only hinted at," Jonathan Wilkins says of the experience. The decision led to all three Postmarks lending ideas to a concept that had already begun to coalesce, a concept they called Memoirs at the End of the World.
"Something about that bar really appealed to us and influenced this record. Coming from South Florida where everything is perfect and glossy, we gravitated toward the weathered aspect of New York City," lead singer/songwriter Tim Yehezkely adds. "I tend to find beauty in things that are dirty and worn down." Yehezkely, we should point out, is a gal with a boy's name; a beautiful, yet inscrutable individual possessed of a soft-textured voice that's simultaneously seductive and detached. When Tim Yehezkely sings, clocks stop, people listen, and ice cream refuses to melt.
So, how did an Anglophile/Francophile indie band come to form in the rock cover-versions hub that is South Florida? Wilkins had been based in San Francisco scoring music for independent films while Moll born in the Bronx had already established himself as a gifted composer, arranger and producer around Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. He also shared Wilkins' passion for film music, and as Wilkins tells it, the pair's friendship was sealed by a shared appreciation of the score for the 1973, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing-appointed gore-fest Horror Express, a flick they'd both seen as kids.
By 2004, Wilkins was periodically DJ-ing at Dada, a Palm Beach venue that sometimes had open-mic nights. One evening a girl with a boy's name got up. It was Tim Yehezkely, of course, and when the enigmatic, Tel Aviv-born singer managed to silence, then enthrall, the normally rowdy crowd, Wilkins approached her afterward, and then made sure Moll had a chance to see her. The Postmarks were soon born.
The trio recorded their beguiling debut album scored for strings, brass and woodwind, and found a home on Andy Chase's Unfiltered Records in the Spring of 2007. The band soon headlined a national tour, played shows with Mm, The Apples in Stereo, The Album Leaf and The New Pornographers, took the stage at Lollapalooza in 2007 and made a memorable appearance on Nickelodeon's cult kid's show Yo Gabba Gabba. A year later they embarked on a recording project that culminated in a covers album entitled By the Numbers, which the band released in November of 2008. By that point the three songwriters had begun building demos of new songs in their home recording studios, taking a collaborative approach to the process, a new combination of individual expression.
"It's like a Venn diagram with the three circles that all intersect each other," Moll says. "The things we agree on are in the center of the diagram, but the elements outside the center still direct the final result. You have three people coming from different angles."
Yehezkely, hitting writer's block when it came to the lyrics, holed herself up in a family friend's tree-house (an actual house in a tree, not a child's hideout) for several days where she wrote the bulk of the lyrics. "It's pretty amazing to hear songs and think 'Will these ever come together?' " Yehezkely says of the album, "and then everything magically does fall into place. I didn't know how it would turn out. Sometimes, when you write, it isn't until years later that you see a picture that tells you what you were going through. That's what I told myself with this record. I can't see the pattern now, but there definitely will be one. I kept thinking: 'Whatever comes out will eventually fit together.' "
She combined her words and musical ideas with those of Moll and Wilkins, and the threesome recorded Memoirs themselves between August of 2008 and February of 2009. The resulting 13-track album combines the band's proclivity for gritty, atmospheric pop songs with enchanting melodies that draw significant inspiration from film soundtracks. Memoirs is a leap forward for The Postmarks, expressed with ambient textures from dub reggae, horn arrangements from classic soul, and elements of experimentation reminiscent of sounds heard at the birth of electronic music.
"All You Ever Wanted" is an epic pop song that builds over the course of five minutes, revealing a surprising collection of musical touchstones in a new, imaginative way. "For BetterOr Worse?" is reflective and hopeful, showcasing the band's newfound bombast, while "Go Jetsetter," the first Yehezkely-penned single, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the pursuit of material pleasures. The album's closers are two songs that delve deeply into cinematic themes. "The Girl From Algenib" is one part Earth Wind & Fire's "Fantasy" and one part Bill Conti's theme from Rocky, and with "Gone," images of French new wave films crossfade to a mournful symphony, bringing the record to a shattering close.
With Memoirs, The Postmarks pushed themselves and the music to another level. "Most bands that I've loved have come into their own on their second album," Moll says. "They had something that hooked me initially, but I truly saw them blossom on their second release. The second record should make good on all the promises the first one made and I'm hoping people get that feeling with ours."