Oh, Benjamin Gibbard, who I am not used to full-first-naming. This is the year of so many solo albums.
“Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby.” Well, that was tiny and endearing.
“Dream Song.” I can’t help it. Ben Gibbard’s voice gives me warm fuzzy feelings. Ben Gibbard’s voice also makes things that definitely aren’t cute if you listen to them sound cute. I mean, “he watches her laying there sound asleep, wonders who’s chasing her through her dreams, and when they do if it scares her too”? That’s not cute. But this song doesn’t sound melancholy or gloomy. It’s kind of dark cute, but it’s cute.
“Teardrop Windows.” Oh, this sounds kind of… vintage, I can’t explain why because it’s not reminding me of any one thing, but it’s definitely something. This both does and does not sound like Death Cab; it’s closer to Death Cab than the Postal Service is, I think, but it’s still nicely solo. And this, again, is much cuter than anything with the word “teardrop” in the title has a right to be.
“It’s Bigger Than Love.” Featuring Aimee Mann! Oh, hi, Aimee Mann. What’s up? I do like surprise duets. Oh, and this isn’t just dark cute, this is sad cute. This is the bittersweetness of independent films. I kind of like it. It’s making me kind of sad, but I like it. Also, “dwarfing the sun, burning within my heart and mind” is a great description of anything.
“Lily.” Cute twanginess, hurrah. Twanginess makes me happy. And this is a cute song that’s actually cute, yay. Ben Gibbard has a way of cranking out love songs that I actually really like, which is maybe because I find the slightly-odd little love songs the sweetest.
“Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke).” This is happening this song says the word “cowpoke” in the title I have not been so happy all day. There’s summer in the southern state, there’s the moon floating in space, I feel completely comfortable calling this song proper cute as well. And this is sort of retro in its way. Retro schmaltz without being tedious, just the right amount of it.
“Duncan, Where Have You Gone?” Oh, it’s the next-to-last scene in a British tragicomedy movie from the 1970s. I’m comfortable with this. Actually, I’m pretty sure this is a British tragicomedy movie from the 1970s, full stop. Okay.
“Oh, Woe.” See, and this is the opposite of the Ellie Goulding “Joy” problem: you hear “woe” in the title and think, “oh, this is going to be a mopey and solemn tune,” then it starts playing and it’s actually relatively cheerful. Deceptively so: “and I can feel you grow in my like a forest of grief, so confound and trying to cut you down” really should not sound as perky as it really does. I mean, it’s a forest of grief for crying out loud. But this is good, because listening to basically anything Ben Gibbard is involved in will mean that I can satisfy my needs to feel happy and gloomy all at once.
“A Hard One to Know.” Oh, hints of rockabilly-country. Thank you, I love you. This is full stop the most deceptively cheerful album I’ve heard in a long time, because really, I’m reading these lyrics along and they’re not cheerful. “First you smother then you disengage, your tears of joy dissolve the tears of rage.” That is not cheerful. Joy is cheerful, but tears of joy are a mixed bag. That’s actually a really apt description of this entire album, I think. Tears of joy.
“Lady Adelaide.” Awww. I mean, props for using an uncommon, multisyllabic name like Adelaide in your lyrics, Ben Gibbard. It’s also making me frustrated, because these lyrics are fascinating and names make fascinating lyrics stuck to an extent, but oh this is beautiful. This is cheerfulness in the face of sadness because you have to, and I like it. I mean, I don’t like the situation, because it’s sad, but also it is so cohesive with so many of my pet narratives.
“Broken Yolk in Western Sky.” And more twang! Okay, Ben my buddy. Somehow, throwing “torn flesh and broken bones” into a chipper song seems less weird if it’s twangy. Those kinds of lyrics just belong with twang.
“I’m Building A Fire.” Yes, you sure are. Here. A not-chipper finale, which is welcome and. Oh gosh, now I’m having feelings all of a sudden. Whoops.
–your fangirl heroine.