Singles Party: The Postal Service ‘A Tattered Line of String’

the gang looks at the big comeback single of 2013…


It’s one of the biggest ‘comebacks’ of 2013. The Postal Service, Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, have reunited and have released a new single, ‘A Tattered Line of String.’ The news and song have sent the masses into a frenzied hysteria — the band’s tour has sold out numerous dates across the country in massive arenas.

So, the gang at The Singles Party has taken the Postal Service’s single and is dissecting it to see if it’s worth adding to your playlist.

Lauren Stern: In an interview with in October, Ben Gibbard made it pretty clear that he and producer Jimmy Tamborello (also of DNTEL) have no plans to collaborate on a follow up to The Postal Service’s debut Give Up. I mean, the phrase “shouldn’t hold your breath” was used so that means there’s no chance for new music, right? Well, kind of.

Technically “A Tattered Line of String” is a new single, but for the re-release of Give Up. Not only that, but it was recorded for the album and became one of those b-side rarities that didn’t make the cut the first time. Boo, we all really don’t have a chance in hell of hearing a follow up any time soon. What a letdown.


Still, this song is fantastic both lyrically and sonically. Probably because it’s VERY reminiscent to other songs on Give Up (“Sleeping In,” “The District Sleeps alone Tonight,” “Brand New Colony” and “Nothing Better” ALL came to mind). It probably would have fit perfectly smack dab in the middle, but hey, it’s just as great on it’s own too. Verdict: Add to Playlist

Brent Johnson: The Postal Service made their debut a decade ago with a cool musical aesthetic: melodic alt-rock vocals over top a softly pulsating electronic dance beat. It was pretty, it was jittery. And 10 years later, apparently little has changed. ‘A Tattered Line Of String’ sounds like it could have been a B-side from their 2003 breakout album Give Up. Which isn’t a bad thing. The track has a nice-enough melody. It’s got a wonderful title. It’s got the lovely Jenny Lewis adding candy-coated backup vocals. And it’s good enough for your iPod shuffle. I just don’t know how much I’d put it on repeat. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

Jason Kundrath: When I evaluate new music from established artists, I often wonder about my biases. Would I like the song as much if it were the work of some newfangled, unknown act? The truth is, however, there is little objectivity in this game. And personally, I have a good amount of history with the sound of Ben Gibbard’s voice. Death Cab was one of my favorite bands for years. But like many people, I hold the Postal Service’s Give Up in particularly high regard. Its juxtaposition of Dntel’s highly digestible IDM with Gibbard as the perfectly awkward, twee troubadour struck a nerve in the mainstream that no one even knew existed. It was so unique and unexpected that ten years on, the album still sounds somewhat timeless, a genre unto itself.

Now, we have a brand new single, “Tattered Line of String,” and I’m happy to report they’ve recaptured some of that old magic. At first, I thought it was a leftover track from the original sessions. And I mean that as a high complement. Sure, the verse is a little goofy, and hearing the recently divorced Gibbard coyly singing about a misguided, hotel room tryst seems less convincing now in 2013. But the chorus is a bright shining gem, simultaneously triumphant and sad, resplendent with those familiar jittery electronics and treble-soaked guitar tones, as Gibbard sings about wanting things we can never have. As for me, however, I got my wish. I’ll be seeing them live this Spring. Verdict: Add to the playlist

Bill Bodkin: So, I hate to be the bummer of the group, but I have never had any love for The Postal Service or Death Cab for Cutie. Death Cab always seemed like it was desperately trying to be The Cure while The Postal Service was just the dude from Death Cab singing over Atari and ColecoVision samples. And yes, I did listen to a lot of both bands in their heyday … I worked at a college newspaper and dated an obsessive fan of both bands. So, I’ve had my fill out Mr. Gibbard to know I don’t like anything he does. However, “A Tattered Line of String” isn’t the worst thing I’ve heard from him. The beat of the song is semi-interesting and lyrically I didn’t mind what was being said. There’s just the voice of Ben Gibbard. Dude, seriously, stop being this gentle whisper machine — sing with some volume damn it! Put some bass in your voice, assert your manhood. I don’t know something, anything but this ‘tender guy in the corner playing his introspectively hip songs that make that Zooey Deschanel clone fall in love with you in the middle of a dive bar in Brooklyn’ gimmick that he uses on every song. I don’t get why these guys are popular — is the whole world sad and we need a reminder of it via Ben Gibbard’s voice? Arr!!! Yes, it’s obvious, I didn’t like this song. Verdict: One and done.

The Final Verdict: So, despite, our editor-in-chief’s near meltdown, our staff recommends that the Postal Service’s big ‘comeback’ single is the real deal and is a must-add to the playlist.

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