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Give Up

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Give Up
PostalService cover300dpi.jpg
Cover art by Al Columbia
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 18, 2003
RecordedDecember 2001 and 2002
LabelSub Pop
Singles from Give Up
  1. "Such Great Heights"
    Released: January 21, 2003
  2. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"
    Released: July 8, 2003
  3. "We Will Become Silhouettes"
    Released: February 8, 2005

Give Up is the only studio album by American indie band The Postal Service, released on February 18, 2003, through Sub Pop Records.

The band began as a side project between electronic music artist Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab for Cutie's vocalist Ben Gibbard. The two had previously worked together for a track on Dntel's album Life Is Full of Possibilities.

The Postal Service's sole full-length release, Give Up was the second Sub Pop Records release to receive platinum certification, their best-selling album since Nirvana's Bleach.[1] The album peaked at #114 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart in its initial release; the 2013 tenth-anniversary reissue of the album peaked at #45 in April 2013. As of January 2013, Give Up had sold 1.07 million copies.[2]

The album was generally well-received, and critics noted its throwbacks to 1980s new wave. In 2006, Apple released an advertisement for the iMac that was said to be very similar to the video for the "Such Great Heights" single. The band did not take legal action, but Tamborello later stated in an interview that they "got a little bit of compensation from them for it" in the form of "attention from iTunes and stuff like that".[3]

Production and composition[edit]

Ben Gibbard, left, and Jimmy Tamborello, right.

The Postal Service's two members – Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and electronic music artist Jimmy Tamborello – had previously collaborated on "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan" before deciding to record a full-length album together.[4] The two worked on the album separately; in December 2001, Tamborello sent a CD-R of electronic music to Gibbard, who added melodies and wrote lyrics. He then added drums, guitar and keyboards at Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla's recording studio and sent the CD back to Tamborello. This process of mailing each other their work on the album continued; after ten months and two trips by Gibbard to Los Angeles to record vocals, the album was completed.[5] The group called themselves "The Postal Service" because of this method of trading ideas.[6] Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis provided backup vocals after being cold called by Gibbard, who knew her when Rilo Kiley was on the same label as Death Cab for Cutie.[4]

Give Up primarily deals with themes of love, as well as fame, history, and friendship.[7] "Clark Gable" is about Gibbard making home movies with an ex and "Nothing Better" is a duet between a couple about to break up.[8] Allmusic's Heather Phares compared "Nothing Better" to The Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" and Gibbard later confirmed that "Don't You Want Me?" was the inspiration for the song.[5][9] Gibbard said that "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", "Brand New Colony" and "This Place Is a Prison" were the only songs that bordered on autobiographical.[5] He went on to say that "Such Great Heights" was the first song he had ever written that was positive about love.[5]

Critics compared it to the eighties synthpop and new wave genres.[7][8][9] Pitchfork Media's Matt LeMay and Phares both commented on the contrasts between the "cool, clean synths" and Gibbard's vocal melodies.[9][10] Phares went on to liken "This Place Is a Prison" to Björk's recent works.[9] Death Cab for Cutie had previously covered Björk's "All Is Full of Love" on their The Stability EP.

Release and promotion[edit]

Give Up was released February 18, 2003 on Sub Pop in the U.S. It was later released in the UK on April 23, 2003.[7] As of December 2007, it had sold over 900,000 copies.[1] It was awarded a platinum certification on October 4, 2012, the second Sub Pop record to do so.[11] The album led to three singles; "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight", "Such Great Heights" and "We Will Become Silhouettes", of which only "We Will Become Silhouettes" charted, reaching 82 on the Billboard Hot 100.[12]

The band toured the U.S. from April to August 2003, including Jenny Lewis in the line-up for all but one of the performances. Lewis provided vocals as well as guitar and keyboards. In the sole performance that Lewis missed, a festival in Spain, friend Joan Hiller sang and Chris Walla played her guitar and keyboard parts.[13] Death Cab for Cutie bassist Nick Harmer was in charge of the tour's visuals.[4] Tamborello later said in an interview that Gibbard had been nervous about touring, as the audience may have been bored by what they saw as "a guy with a computer onstage". This was partly the motivation for using visual effects such as videos and lights, which included small films for each song.[3][4]

In February 2013, Sub Pop announced that a Tenth Anniversary edition of Give Up would be released, featuring fifteen bonus tracks, including two newly recorded songs.[14] "Turn Around" was released to radio on June 4, 2013.[15]


In January 2006, Apple released an advertisement for the iMac that was said to be very similar to The Postal Service's video for "Such Great Heights".[16] Some created videos that played the advertisement and the music video side by side to make the resemblance clear.[17] It was later revealed that the advertisement had been created by the filmmakers who had made the music video. Ben Gibbard said on the band's website:

It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computers' new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent.[18]

The band did not take legal action, but Tamborello later stated in an interview that they "got a little bit of compensation from them for it" in the form of "attention from iTunes and stuff like that".[3]

The United States Postal Service served the band with a cease and desist letter citing tarnishing and dilution of their trademark. The band initially considered renaming themselves, but eventually came to a settlement that involved the band playing at a conference and the sale of the album in the USPS online store.[19] Tamborello later said of their conference performance:

It was really weird. When we found out we had to do it, it was really depressing, and it kind of freaked me out. I already don't like flying, and flying to play a show for people who probably aren't going to care – we only played two songs – it just seemed like a crazy trip. But then when we did it, and it ended up being kind of fun.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[21]
Alternative Press4/5[22]
Billboard4.5/5 stars[23]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[24]
Mojo4/5 stars[25]
Q4/5 stars[27]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[8]
The Village VoiceA−[28]

Give Up was generally well received by music critics. It holds a score of 79 out of 100 on review aggregate site Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20] Matt LeMay of online music magazine Pitchfork called the album "a pretty damned strong record, and one with enough transcendent moments to forgive it its few substandard tracks and ungodly lyrical blunders".[10] Will Hermes of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "Ben Gibbard radiates claustrophobia, so the shut-in synth-pop of this side project fits him like a leotard", calling Give Up "the near-perfect pop record that's eluded his main group."[24] The Village Voice's Robert Christgau praised its "staying power" and felt that "Gibbard's delicate voice matches the subtle electro arrangements far more precisely than it does the folky guitars of his real group".[28]

Heather Phares of AllMusic felt that while Give Up did not measure up to either Gibbard or Tamborello's main projects, it was nonetheless "far more consistent and enjoyable than might be expected."[21] Michaelangelo Matos of Rolling Stone described the album as "a cuddly little new wave reverie" and wrote that "Tamborello's delightful pings and whistles fit Gibbard's whimsy perfectly."[8] Devon Powers of PopMatters remarked that "like any worthy match, the coming together gives each aspect assets that they'd be wont to find otherwise", concluding that the album "integrates the human and the humanoid to give soundtrack to the disconnected, yet earnest escapades of contemporary emotional life."[29]

Pitchfork placed Give Up at number 104 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s.[30] Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 86 on their list of the 100 Best Albums of the Decade.[31]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by The Postal Service.

1."The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"4:44
2."Such Great Heights"4:26
3."Sleeping In"4:21
4."Nothing Better" (featuring Jen Wood)3:46
5."Recycled Air"4:29
6."Clark Gable"4:54
7."We Will Become Silhouettes"5:00
8."This Place Is a Prison"3:54
9."Brand New Colony"4:12
10."Natural Anthem"5:07


  • The vinyl version of Give Up was released on November 9, 2004 and featured a bonus 12" of B-sides, covers and remixes, all of which can also be found on the Such Great Heights and The District Sleeps Alone Tonight EPs:
Bonus vinyl disc
1."There's Never Enough Time" 
2."We Will Become Silhouettes" (performed by The Shins) 
3."Such Great Heights" (performed by Iron & Wine) 
4."Suddenly Everything Has Changed" (The Flaming Lips cover) 
5."The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" (DJ Downfall Persistent Beat Mix) 
6."Such Great Heights" (John Tejada Remix) 
7."Nothing Better" (Styrofoam Remix) 
10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
1."The District Sleeps Alone Tonight"4:43
2."Such Great Heights"4:26
3."Sleeping In"4:21
4."Nothing Better"3:46
5."Recycled Air"4:29
6."Clark Gable"4:54
7."We Will Become Silhouettes"5:00
8."This Place Is a Prison"4:12
9."Brand New Colony"4:12
10."Natural Anthem"5:07
11."Turn Around"3:45
12."A Tattered Line of String"2:56
13."Be Still My Heart"3:03
14."There's Never Enough Time"3:32
15."Suddenly Everything Has Changed" (The Flaming Lips cover)3:26
16."Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Phil Collins cover)4:17
17."Grow Old with Me" (John Lennon cover)2:31
18."Such Great Heights" (John Tejada Remix)5:49
19."The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" (DJ Downfall Persistent Beat Mix)6:54
20."Be Still My Heart" (Nobody Remix)3:54
21."We Will Become Silhouettes" (Matthew Dear's Not Scared Remix)5:05
22."Nothing Better" (Styrofoam Remix)3:27
23."Recycled Air" (Live on KEXP)2:59
24."We Will Become Silhouettes" (performed by The Shins)3:01
25."Such Great Heights" (performed by Iron & Wine)4:16


  • Benjamin Gibbard – lead vocals, lyrics, guitars (1, 2, 3, 5, 9), additional keyboards (2, 7) , electric piano (8), drums (6, 8, 9)
  • Jimmy Tamborello – keyboards, synthesizers, programming, accordion (8), electric drums, production, glitching
  • Chris Walla – piano (4)
  • Jenny Lewis – backing vocals (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9)
  • Jen Wood – backing vocals (2), vocals (4)

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2003) Peak
US Billboard 200[32] 45
US Top Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[33] 1
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[34] 1
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[35] 3
Chart (2013) Peak
US Billboard 200[32] 45


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[36] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[37] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b "Aging album maintains high sales". The Badger Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  2. ^ "The Postal Service Reunites". 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  3. ^ a b c d Dave Maher. "Interview: Jimmy Tamborello". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  4. ^ a b c d Tim McMahan. "The Postal Service: Special Delivery". Lazy-I. Retrieved 2008-03-20.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Postal Service". Sub Pop. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  6. ^ "The Postal Service". MTV. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  7. ^ a b c "The Postal Service - Give Up". Pop Matters. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  8. ^ a b c d Matos, Michaelangelo (March 25, 2003). "Give Up". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c d Heather Phares. "Give Up review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
  10. ^ a b c LeMay, Matt (February 9, 2003). "The Postal Service: Give Up". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "RIAA searchable database". RIAA. Archived from the original on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  12. ^ "The Postal Service Billboard Hot 100 Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  13. ^ Jenny Lewis. "The Postal Service gigography". Archived from the original on 2008-02-24. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  14. ^ Sam S. (2013). "The Postal Service's 'Give Up' Turns Ten, Gets Reissued w/ New Tracks". Sub Pop. Archived from the original on February 13, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  15. ^ "FMQB Airplay Archive: Modern Rock". Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, Incorporated. Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  16. ^ "Apple's ad sinks to such great lows". Engadget. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  17. ^ "Apple's TV ad's are a rip-off of Postal Service video". BoingBoing. Archived from the original on 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  18. ^ "Postal Service Accuse Apple of Plagiarism". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
  19. ^ Richard H. Levey. "Loose Cannon: The Postal Service and the Letter of the Law". Retrieved 2008-04-12.
  20. ^ a b "Reviews for Give Up by The Postal Service". Metacritic. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  21. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Give Up – The Postal Service". AllMusic. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  22. ^ "The Postal Service: Give Up". Alternative Press (176): 100. March 2003.
  23. ^ Payne, Chris (February 19, 2013). "The Postal Service, 'Give Up': Classic Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  24. ^ a b Hermes, Will (March 14, 2003). "Give Up". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 6, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  25. ^ "The Postal Service: Give Up". Mojo (114): 98. May 2003.
  26. ^ "The Postal Service: Give Up". NME. May 3, 2003.
  27. ^ "The Postal Service: Give Up". Q (202): 112. May 2003.
  28. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (March 23, 2004). "Consumer Guide: Edges of the Groove". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  29. ^ Powers, Devon (April 3, 2003). "The Postal Service: Give Up". PopMatters. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  30. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 28, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 200–151". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 1, 2009.
  31. ^ "100 Best Albums of the 2000s". Rolling Stone.
  32. ^ a b "The Postal Service Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  33. ^ "The Postal Service Chart History (Top Dance/Electronic Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  34. ^ "The Postal Service Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  35. ^ "The Postal Service Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  36. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Postal Service – Give Up". Music Canada. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  37. ^ "American album certifications – Postal Service – Give Up". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 24, 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]