Album: Benjamin Gibbard, Former Lives (City Slang)

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The Independent Culture

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard's solo outing bears few scars of his recent divorce from Zooey Deschanel, suggesting there's nothing like melodic pop for cauterising emotional trauma.

At its best – the quaint indie-pop jangle of "Teardrop Windows", the psychedelic swagger of "Dream Song", and the domestic tribulation of "Bigger Than Love", a duet with Aimee Mann – Former Lives shares similarities with Gibbard's Postal Service work; elsewhere his scattershot stylistic approach weakens songs like "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)", with its mariachi horns, and the lolloping glam boogie "Oh, Woe", which just doesn't fit his vocal. But 1970s throwback fans will be delighted by "Duncan, Where Have You Gone?", which sounds like the love child of 10cc, ELO and Wings.

Download: Bigger Than Love; Dream Song; Teardrop Windows