The Postal Service releases first new song in a decade

Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

This post has been updated. See below for details.

Owl City can retire now -- the real thing is back.

Synth-pop duo the Postal Service, whose one and only album, “Give Up,” influenced a generation of bedroom producers with its catchy but complicated songs, on Monday morning released its first new music in 10 years. Called “A Tattered Line of String,” the song features singer Ben Gibbard’s typically infectious vocal melodies and programmer Jimmy Tamborello’s dance-along rhythms. It arrives via the forthcoming 10th anniversary reissue of “Give Up,” and is one of two new tracks to be featured on the collection.

New music from the Postal Service has been a long time coming, and for fans of the band, the wait has been a bit tortuous as well. In addition to having to endure Adam Young’s subpar quasi-tribute band Owl City, fans often faced Gibbard’s stubborn refusal to return to synth-based music. Best known for his work with longtime band Death Cab for Cutie, he long dismissed the notion of new Postal Service material, even going so far as to suggest that he wasn’t crazy about the process of making electronic music.

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“I really enjoyed doing that record with Jimmy,” Gibbard told Spinner in 2012, but then qualified his statement. “I find that making music in computers involves a lot of mouse time... I don’t have an aesthetic for that. Keeping up on new software technology, I’m not particularly interested in that.”


But last month, the group unveiled a new website, and soon thereafter they announced a reunion gig at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in April. That news was followed by more festival dates.

And now comes “A Tattered Line of String,” and it’s as though they never left. As catchy as anything from their 2003 debut, the song suggests a lost Pet Shop Boys or New Order track, all plasticine joy and compactly organized synth rhythms. Lyrically, it traces a rendezvous in New York, and a seemingly futile attempt to keep the tryst in check while Tamborello weaves in typically catchy counter-melodies and arrangements.

The “Give Up” reissue will arrive on April 9; less than a week later, the pair will gig Coachella. Watch the video below.

Update: The original version of this post mistated the name of Owl City’s singer. His first name is Adam, not, as originally written, Andy.


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