It seems the time working with the relatively minimalist Postal Service project has given Ben Gibbard the swing-for-the-fences attitude on the similarly timed Death Cab release. Right out of the gates on “The New Year” the music bursts and swells and delivers a wallop. The rest of the album doesn’t continue on this grandiose scale, but actually dials it back, strips it down and feels more intimate in its composition than anything before it. A lot of this is due to Gibbard’s personal, lovelorn lyrics a la a sunnier Elliot Smith (could anybody not be sunnier), as well as the amazing listenability the music affords through its clean and up front production. As a sum of its parts, this is by far their best album. From beginning to end, the thing just feels like a story being told. A sad but ultimately hopeful story filled with life’s tragedies and triumphs. Despite my cliched descriptions, it was this album that launched this band into the indie rock atmosphere and made the band with the stupid name (thanks Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) the name that was on everybody’s hipster lips.