x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Benjamin Gibbard's Former Lives

As ever, Gibbard's songs can be emotionally over-wrought, but this record serves to remind listeners of his undeniable gift for melody and his impressive versatility.

Benjamin
Gibbard
Former Lives
City Slang
****

It would be easy to call Benjamin Gibbard's first full-length solo release a break-up album. Until a year ago, the Death Cab For Cutie frontman was husband to the New Girl star Zooey Deschanel, and the record's title alludes to days gone by.

There are plenty of yearning, regretful ballads, too, such as Teardrop Window and I'm Building a Fire. But throughout Gibbard's career, his heart has rarely been anywhere but firmly on his sleeve. T

he largely acoustic album may feature fewer jagged riffs and drawn-out crescendos than Death Cab used, but many of its songs could still have fit easily on to the band's last release.

Its high point is Bigger Than Love, a rollicking duet with Aimee Mann which harks back to his band's early years. But there are, however, modest successes when he leaves his comfort zone, such as the Andrew Bird folk-influenced Something's Rattling and the country-tinged Broken Yolk in Western Sky.

As ever, Gibbard's songs can be emotionally overwrought, but the record serves to remind listeners of his undeniable gift for melody and his impressive versatility.