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Opinion

Ten years in the making

Column by Abbey Maynard

Abbey Maynard-w2000-h2000In 2003, a little-known indie rocker and an even less familiar electronic musician were brought together by the United States Postal Service to create a singular record.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of “Give Up,” the group’s one and only album . I was fortunate enough to have friends willing to travel a combined 14 hours to see one of their last shows.

As I sat and hero-worshiped The Postal Service in the absolute back row of Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minn.,  trying my hardest not to spontaneously combust from a combination of the elation and elevation, I was in awe of the odd captivation the music community has maintained after all these years.

Countless advances in technology began to move music in innumerable directions at the dawn of the information age of the 1990s, but the early 2000s revealed to music consumers just how vast their options were (and still are). Not the sort of infinity that has no end, the sort that also has no beginning.

I suspect that The Postal Service had the slightest awareness that this particular infinity was imminent and hoped to offer relief to this future yearning, even as they sent recordings to each other through the mail instead of digitally.

We now live in a moment that offers us access to music, old and new, creating a borrowed nostalgia for when things were simpler. This is the precise reason I ponder the popularity of the group and how their popularity has grown.

It took nine years after their original release for the album to go platinum. It took 10 years for a second tour, and with the tour came an end to The Postal Service. Even after their recent dissipation, there is comfort in “Give Up.” Ingenious album         stacking positions the hopeful and heart-wrenching track “Brand New Colony” as the second to last track, fading out on the lyrics “everything will change.” It feels like a perfect way to end the record, but it’s not the end, naturally.

A primarily instrumental track with lyrics tacked on the end — “Natural Anthem” — finishes it out, a bit like “Her Majesty” on The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” “Natural Anthem” provides a curious and life-affirming moment when it concludes the record. It doesn’t offer the brand of resolve “Brand New Colony” might have if it would have been the end. Instead, it reminds us that indeed, everything will change.

I was sorely disappointed that after I saw The Postal Service, I was still perturbed by my inexplicable fascination with them. Why this band? Why this record? And I’m not sure I have an answer.

There will not be a second album. There will not be another show. There is only “Give Up” — a record about impermanence, heartbreak and loneliness. And it is enough. Because it has to be.

Maynard is a sophomore English and study of culture and society double major and can be reached at abigail.maynard@drake.edu

 

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