Monday, 22 October 2012

Record Review - Benjamin Gibbard

Published in the November issue of The Big Issue.

Benjamin Gibbard
Former Lives


After 15 years fronting Death Cab For Cutie, Ben Gibbard has decided the time is right for a solo offering, time to find a home for at least a handful of the scores of tunes he’s penned over the years, deemed not right for The Cab.

Former Lives is that home, a clutch of disparate tunes running the gamut from robust, folky numbers to slow-burning, big-building soundscapes to horn-laden mariachi jaunts, a real hodge-podge of ideas seemingly thrown together for comfort and support, but which as a whole, make for a smart, cohesive little unit.

Beginning with the pithy a capella ‘Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby’, Former Lives, despite its seeming randomness, is bound together by the strength and honesty of Gibbard’s songwriting, a thread which solidifies, injecting some cohesion, anchoring it and making it something special, as opposed to merely the frontman of a famous band, indulging himself. 

For Gibbard, this record closes a long chapter of his life, but at the same time, I’d not be surprised if it began another.

Samuel J. Fell

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