Give Up was crafted by mail, though it suffers no drop in enthusiasm for lack of direct interaction. Tamborello's musical beds cradle Gibbard's vignettes in retro-contemporary Casio-tones, bright melodies and crispy, skittering beat cascades (toned down from the clicks 'n' cuts of earlier DNTEL). Tracks range from charmingly choppy to plush and hushed. As for the vocals, there's long-distance yearnings in Gibbard's pillow(y) talk -- yet he maintains a winsome, intimate presence. The breathy vocals and breezy arrangements spoon like lovers.
But Give Up stretches a little thin after its first -- and best -- two tracks, "The District Sleeps Alone" and "Such Great Heights." And while there are dips in lyricism, an unabashed pop joy remains consistent throughout -- especially in the rubbery, ricocheting pips and pulses of "Nothing Better" and "Brand New Colony," which join Gibbard's twee vocals with those of Jen Wood and Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis.
Fans of synth-pop and indie pop would do well to give in to Give Up.
The Postal Service plays The Earl Sat., April 12.