Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Postal Service: Give Up [Sub Pop, 2003]
Dinky where Death Cab for Cutie are merely wimpy, the Benjamin Gibbard-Jimmy Tamborello collab could be designed to put off not just red-blooded testosterone addicts but anyone who thinks music has to feign strength to make itself felt. What it does instead is display staying power. Tunes whose catchiness seemed annoying prove lovely; tunes whose quietude seemed wan prove catchy. Gibbard's delicate voice matches the subtle electro arrangements far more precisely than it does the folky guitars of his real group, and no longer does he express himself in word clusters or dream-state imagery. A female principle keeps giving him what for--in the background, Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, and up front on the album's centerpiece, Jen Wood--and he needs her too much to mince metaphors. A-