ALBUMS

Ben Gibbard
Former Lives

Released: 12th November 2012
Label: City Slang

It seems like you just can't escape the glut of singers releasing solo albums these days, ditching the band just for a little taster of the other side of the fence. Usually it doesn't last long as it's not just the singer who makes the band but then again, when you're as good a song writer as Gibbard, does it make a difference?

Ultimately no!

Death Cab for Cutie are truly one of the bands that defined indie/emo rock in the late 90s and early 00s and, alongside bands like Bright Eyes, have truly stood the test of time. It's not to say that Gibbard's skill of song writing isn't present here but without cohorts like Chris Walla in Death Cab or Jimmy Tamborello in Postal Service, the songs just feel like slightly pale imitations of what could be. The real highlights are the more simplistic tracks making use largely of just vocal and acoustic guitar like in 'Lily' and 'I'm Building a Fire'. The more country tinged 'Broken Yolk in Western Sky' is another highlight with its simple arrangement and slide guitar, but it's the other full band arrangements that you can't help but feel would have been better alone.

It may seem a little harsh but this is the guy who wrote the likes of 'I Will Follow You Into The Dark' (Plans) and 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight' (Give up) and despite being as sharp as ever with his cutting insights and views of lost love there is just that little something…that niggling something that leaves this as a good album but not quite a great album.

Phill

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