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postal service and death cab for cutie frontman ben gibbard releases his solo debut 'former lives' on city slang. the 12 tracks were written over the course of eight years but didn't find their fully realized form until the songwriter moved from his native seattle down to los angeles. a wandering spirit infects many of the best tracks here, as ben jumps from style to style and voice to voice. 'former lives' begins with 'shepherd's bush lullaby,' a whimsical a cappella doodle recorded on an iphone between london raindrops and then bounces to the more straightforward strumminess of 'dream song' and 'teardrop windows.' then there's 'bigger than love,' a dizzying and lovely duet with aimee mann. 'former lives' is a brisk, occasionally breezy record, but the shadow of time hangs heavily over it, from the 'basement of a year' on 'oh, woe' to the fading beauty 'lady adelaides'.
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