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Review: The Postal Service at Verizon Theatre

Posted 10:39am on Tuesday, Jun. 04, 2013

The Internet has warped nostalgia.

And by that, I mean the ability of a fervent few to easily find each other online and create the impression that some piece of pop culture was more missed than it actually is or was can lead to some skewed situations. For example, was anyone beyond its die-hard fans clamoring for a new season of Arrested Development?

The Postal Service, a one-time side project for musicians Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, is another instance where manufactured nostalgia intruded upon (perceived) reality.

The pair released Give Up in 2003, and thanks to infectious single Such Great Heights, enjoyed a popularity that ebbed and flowed over the last 10 years. Each was otherwise occupied with day jobs — Gibbard in Death Cab for Cutie, Tamborello in Dntel — and apart from Give Up’s fevered fans, few were anxious for new music from the group.

And yet: the 10th anniversary of an album that’s sold a million copies over the course of a decade apparently merits the lengthy merch lines and the surprisingly jam-packed pit seen Monday night at Verizon Theatre. It was a little jarring to see such a healthy turn-out (on a Monday, of all things) and the reception afforded Gibbard, Tamborello and unofficial third member Jenny Lewis was deafening. Give Up is a quiet, earnest album, danceable before its time, and clearly, struck a chord with the few thousand piled into the theatre.

The 75-minute set was almost manic in its pacing (thanks to the dazzling light show embedded in the staging), a restless Gibbard scarcely stopping to talk between songs, nearly all of which were ruined by a horrific sound mix. The bass was so overwhelming that, at one point, during Nothing Better, my vision was blurring slightly.

It’s unfortunate, as most of the Postal Service material is thick with atmosphere, and when it could be discerned, the vocal interplay between Lewis and Gibbard was wonderful. Apart from playing almost the entire Give Up album, the Postal Service also showed off new songs like A Tattered Line of String (Gibbard, however, has said no new album is on the horizon).

Still, the band has successfully rejiggered its contemplative electro-pop songs into throbbing, exultant soundscapes, and made this “victory lap” feel less crass than it might otherwise. Sometimes, it’s best to just give the people what they want — whether it’s truly missed or not.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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