Music mark: 7/10
Standout tracks: Dream Song, A Hard One to Know and Teardrop Windows
After nearly two decades at the helm of indie icons Death Cab for Cutie – the wait for Seattle wordsmith Benjamin Gibbard’s debut album is finally over.
With the 2011 release of the band’s seventh studio album, Codes and Keys, a year-long world tour and the highly publicised split from actress Zooey Deschanel, Gibbard could have been forgiven for taking a break from music. Instead he decided to treat the world with his debut solo album, Former Lives.
Trading a timeout on an exotic island in the Caribbean for a recording studio in his hometown, Gibbard pieced together his solo effort without the aid of the Death Cab clan.
Former Lives showcases Gibbard’s signature, effortless storytelling with a seemingly more vulnerable edge. An edge that can only come from the spotlight being solely on him, and the curtain of hiding behind a band no longer available to him.
With tracks that range in genre, from country folk (Broken Yolk in Western Sky) to acoustic indie (I’m Building a Fire), Former Lives projects a distinct sound that would be more associated to a barren dust land in the deep south of American – far from its inner-city birthplace of Seattle.
With a distinct theme of “love” throughout the album, the speculative wolves are bound to read into it as some subliminal message relating back to the demise of his marriage, when to me it comes across as a more stripped-back version of Benjamin Gibbard – the man himself.
Former Lives is a good album without being great. Nothing more and nothing less. One could be left with a feeling of expectancy as to the how the new sounds and themes will influence Gibbard’s future workings with Death Cab.
Most importantly, to all Death Cab fans – do not fear. It’s definitely not the end. If anything, it’s the beginning of a new and exciting chapter. – Lewis Collins