The Postal Service’s Give Up is one of the most well-known indie records of the 2000s. The duo of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) released their first and only album in 2003 after they met by chance in Los Angeles. Despite making the record mostly for fun, having little to no expectations for commercial success, Give Up would soon sell over 1 million copies and become Sub-Pop’s second best-selling release after Nirvana’s Bleach.
Their collaboration began when Jimmy asked Ben to sing on a track on his 2001 album Life Is Full Of Possibilities. Through producing the song, “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan”, they discovered they had great songwriting chemistry and decided to work together on a full album.
The band’s name references the way in which the two wrote music together. Jimmy would come up with the initial song ideas, burn them on CDs, and mail them to Ben to write lyrics and melodies. Ben would send his parts back and Jimmy would finish producing the songs.
The pair approached this project as something fun and different, and they had low expectations for the album’s commercial success. The album quickly gained a huge audience. When they started their tour, they were playing small rooms of around only 250 people. Just a month later they had to add extra tour dates, and were playing to crowds of over 1,500 people each night. After the tour they went their separate ways, but the album continued to grow in popularity. The lead single “Such Great Heights” found its way onto several major television ad campaigns, became the theme song of Grey’s Anatomy in 2005, and was covered by Iron & Wine on the much beloved Garden State soundtrack.
After years of teasing a possible second album, the band finally announced in 2013 that they were finished for good. They played several reunion shows and re-released a deluxe edition of Give Up before disbanding permanently.