Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Fleeting, Sleeting, "Sleeping In" With The Postal Service's live album from their first reunion tour

If you're reading this in Central Ohio, your day began with a fresh coat of snow. Other than scattered flurries and the apocalyptic -30* wind chill of that winter storm right before Christmas, this is really our first nice winter snowfall. When I say "nice snowfall" what I mean is, your lungs don't explode from trying to weasel oxygen out of whatever godless cellular structures make up the kind of 'air' that's -30*, or where there's more cars safely driving on the road instead of 'parked' on the side of it. You know, regular January stuff. Fluffy, fat, perfect for snowballs and the like. Where a scarf isn't essential but still feels nice to wear. Weather that compels you to being cozy.

Today is a day like that, though, as I look out my office window, I'm already seeing snow turning to rain, so today may very well end up a disappointing ice and grass soaked caricature of a Midwestern winter day. The thing about the weather, like most things, is that when it is good, it is also fleeting.

Hey, speaking of fleeting, remember that band The Postal Service? Of course you do. The storied side project of just-peaking-fame Death Cab for Cutie's Benjamin Gibbard and Jimmy Tambarello (who releases music as Dntel) that brought electronic music into the center of indie rock in the early 00s with their sole album release: Give Up (2003). Fleeting: they had their amazing moment, and then it was over.

Until it wasn't. In 2013 the gang came back for a deluxe edition with covers, and unearthed b-sides (no new music in the purest sense) and did a full-fledged tour. It was, for indie rock fans, one of those you had to be there tours. Luckily for the world, in 2020, sort of out of the blue, The Postal Service released a live album from that reunion: Everything Will Change

Luckily for me, that live album was cut at their show in Berkeley, California. It was, for me, one of those you had to be there shows, and I was. And I'm "on" a Postal Service album. After that tour, other than this blip of a release, The Postal Service were once again quiet. Fleeting. Until they weren't.

This year Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service are doing a 20th anniversary tour of their powerhouse albums Transatlanticism and Give Up. So many things changed in the last ten years, to say nothing of the last two decades. Fleeting, at least for me, the tour doesn't even remotely come into my admittedly short driving range for concerts.

But, every since I first heard "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" The Postal Service has been a winter band, Give Up the perfect snowfall album. "We Will Become Silhouettes" a kind of on-the-nose winter track, I mean, look at this single art:

As a listener, this presents an additional sense of fleeting-ness to the record: I only play it a few times a year, only in the less-and-less reliable weather conditions that used to be a given in Ohio, and I only really connect with this music (which beyond "Silhouettes" isn't really about the winter or snow at all) when I look like the dude on the single cover above. But this morning, in that perfect moment where snow meets road but doesn't risk dumping my car into a ditch, Everything Will Change sounded more perfect than anything I have ever heard in my entire life. That show in 2013 was fleeting. This perfect morning is fleeting; emails are already pushing me further away from 'perfect' and the coffee mug is running low, soon the day will be here with a vengeance. But, just one more moment.

"I'll be your winter coast, buttoned and zipped straight to the throat
with the collar up, so you won't catch a cold

I want to take you far from the cynics in this town
and kiss you on the mouth
we'll cut our bodies free from the tethers of this scene
start a brand new colony."

Yeah, that sounds pretty nice. Something I didn't mention: the Berkeley show was in June. It was a hot day in East Bay. I don't seem to recall the 'off-season' ruining the music for me. Maybe perfect isn't so fleeting. When you find it.

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