The Postal Service is an indie electro-pop band, which started life as a side project for singer Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and producer Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, Headset and Figurine. Several songs on their first LP, Give Up, feature guest vocals from Jenny Lewis, the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, a band which was once on the same label as Death Cab (Barsuk Records) and vocals from Jen Wood, an indie rock solo artist. Chris Walla recorded some of the songs and played the piano on Nothing Better.
The way in which the group combines electronic backing tracks with poppy hooks is somewhat reminiscent of 1980s new wave music. The group formed, in 2001, after Gibbard contributed vocals for a song on Dntel’s album Life Is Full of Possibilities called (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan. This song sparked an EP of remixes by other artists, such as Lali Puna, The Flaming Lips, Safety Scissors, Barbara Morgenstern and Superpitcher and was so well received that the two artists decided that further collaboration was in order.
Its name comes from the manner in which their songs were written, due to the fact that the two of them lived too far away to be able to work together in person. Tamborello would create beats and mail them to singer and lyricist Gibbard, who would then edit them and put his melodies over the tracks and mail them back. Gibbard didn’t write any of the lyrics until the tracks were completely finished.
Despite the fact that their main bands are still active, The Postal Service has supported its full-length album Give Up with a successful concert tour and has stated intentions to tour more in the future. The album’s most notable single was Such Great Heights that has been featured in various television commercials, series, and movie trailers also remixed by John Tejada. The album also recently became the most successful album for the Sub Pop label since Nirvana’s debut album Bleach.
The Postal Service more recently contributed a cover of Against All Odds to the soundtrack to the 2004 motion picture Wicker Park, and the band has worked on several remixes of other artists, including Do You Realize?? (Postal Service remix) (from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots) and Little Girl Blue (Postal Service Remix) (from Verve Remixed 3) and Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix). Gibbard doesn’t sing on these remixes (except for Feist’s Mushaboom), and it is likely that he has granted Jimmy Tamborello permission to work alone under the name The Postal Service.
At least two songs have been recorded as of June 2006 for the newest The Postal Service album.