For some reason completely beyond my comphrension, the Postal Service's newest single, "We Will Become Silhouettes," doesn't really seem like a tailor-made radio fix at first. Only upon several listens of the track itself does it really start to sink in that amongst Jimmy Tamborello's near lo-fi, crackling intro, Jenny Lewis's poignant echoing, and Ben Gibbard's amiable metaphor of a catchy-as-all-hell chorus, that it really is appropriate despite its five-minute running length. The band's newest single CD, titled the same name, helps illustrate this further.
I suppose that besides "..Silhouettes," the main attraction here would be "Be Still My Heart," recorded this past fall at Los Angeles's Dying Studios. Though it starts out nice with some more Atari-oriented blips and bleeps before a semi-retreat in favor of Gibbard's narration of early morning activity, it disappointingly fizzles in the second half as nothing more than white noise, relying too much on double-speaker vocal overlapping that comes off a little too cheesy with the chorus line "Be still my heart / this could be a brand new start."
"Nothing Better (Styrofoam Remix)" turns up and alters some of the programming from the original (which appeared on Give Up), setting robotic echoing to Gibbard's voice in the chorus before ditzy drum loops dance in erratically. When Lewis sings "I feel I must interject here;" her proclamation is all the more prevalent here, as the verse transition sounds entirely more dramatic than the original, with a keyboard providing a wall of sound for most of the verse's duration. Despite the heavy focus on programming, the vocal interplay between Gibbard and Lewis sounds even more Mates Of State-like, as all the cheeky yet romantically honest couplets like "Tell me am I right to think that there could be nothing better / than making you my bride and slowly growing old together" stand out better than before. The difference between this and "Be Still My Heart" is more or less the bounciness and flow as the lines come across.
The last track is a mostly program-less, slowed down version of the single, depending instead on stuttering acoustic strokes and a more stressed out, pronounced singing style of the lines from Gibbard. The changes made, although only somewhat admirable, are plenty to elicit inclusion of the song.
Also worthy of mention despite not actually being included with the disc is the video for "We Will Become Silhouettes." Directed by Napoleon Dynamite mastermind Jared Hess, you can immediately recognize the style, that being overhead camera shots and scenery straight out of early-90s Americana Suburbana (warm, fall colors, acid-washed jeans, etc. al). In case you missed the original article, you can check it out here. Its family value fuzziness and feel-good decade-old nostalgia warms your heart and is definitely worth a look.
Artwork from Kozyndan, who did The District Sleeps Alone and Such Great Heights if I'm not mistaken, does it here as well, and not only does it keep a really nice theme running through the "series" so-to-speak, but also captures the hellacious nature of northeast's frigid winter occurring as this is typed (and, well, the tundra-like conditions of other meteorologically unfortunate locations).
For even casual fans, We Will Become Silhouettes is likely worth a pickup, especially if the price is in the range of its preceding singles. Though it gives mixed blessings for the inevitable followup to Give Up in "Be Still My Heart," the rest of the package completes it fairly well.