Here we are provided a prime example of Simon Reynold’s thesis to Retromania: a reissue of an album by a band with only one album to their name, released only ten years earlier. Less a cultural ouroboros here and more a capitalistic one (coinciding with the reunion tour that no one asked for), the reissue of Give Up provides the opportunity to critically re-appraise this release, the legacy, and the extra material provided. Give Up reveals itself as uneven in retrospect. It was easy to get caught up in “Such Great Heights,” “We Will Become Silhouettes,” and “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.” These were great singles and still are; they epitomize the band at their best and “Such Great Heights” could rightly be considered one of the best singles of the 2000s. Beyond this though, the album lacks more in memorable songs; most are unmemorable but acceptable. Beyond that, what has been the legacy of The Postal Service? They seem not to have had any sort of profound impact on music, their only cultural influence comes by reissuing their own material a decade later.
Perhaps the archival aspect of this will shed some new appreciation on the band? What do the b-sides and remixes say about the band? It’s more of the same, which depending on how you feel about the band will be a good or bad thing. The two original tracks, “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line of String” are average Postal Service songs that reveal little about the band that “Clark Gable” didn’t already show. The remixes are almost completely irrelevant. The covers here (by Iron and Wine and The Shins) bring a slightly different aspect to the songs that is appreciated, but they, like the remixes, were widely available elsewhere.
This is a document for completists and Postal Service fanatics (if they exist) only. The band is best remembered for their singles which evidenced a high watermark, but as most of the content here has already been released, little else warrants the casual listener to buy this if they already have the original album. (Sub Pop, subpop.com) Devin King