Reporting Courtney E. Smith
What’s wrong with a little nostalgia if it makes you feel good? Over the weekend at Coachella, we saw a a number of nostalgia-fueled reunions. A new generation of fans were introduced to ’90s Britpop band Blur, who headlined Friday. The return of the Wu-Tang Clan on Sunday has been widely hailed as a victory march for the giant hip-hop collective. And, among the most anticipated, a reunion of the Postal Service finally happened on Saturday.
The group, founded by Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello, along with Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, had the best-selling electronic album of 2003. That album, Give Up, eventually went platinum, selling over a million copies worldwide.
When Gibbard stopped in for an interview with Radio.com last fall, he spoke at length about the phenomenon of nostalgia, addressing his own and the feelings engendered by his bands.
“I only really live with this when we’re playing these songs live,” Gibbard said, referring to Death Cab for Cutie. “But I think it’s really fascinating when we’re playing a show and the kids are always, the younger kids are always up front because that’s where kids go at shows, and we’ll play something from the first couple of albums. You’ll see a kid who isn’t older than late teens, early 20s going bananas for a song that is now 12 years old.”
“They have clearly discovered it outside of its contemporary time,” Gibbard continued, “but their relationship to it is as if it was a new record because it’s new to them. Those moments, when they happen, really mean a lot to me.”
Although he was reflecting on Death Cab fans and shows, it is a feeling easily portable to the Postal Service, whose single album came out exactly ten years ago. In a video of the group’s Coachella performance, we see Gibbard and Lewis dance toward each other, in a move the duo originally executed on their 2004 tour in support of Give Up. While it all seems comfortingly similar for people who saw the original tour (neither artist appears to have aged significantly), it is a very different experience for the younger audience who were likely crowding to the front of the stage for their Coachella performance.
Gibbard debates that very thing: the idea of records that hold their own (name-checking Superchunk’s Foolish from his own record collection) versus albums that we revisit years later only to feel foolish for enjoying them in the first place.
“How our records live with people is very specific to who they are as people and what they’re into musically, and whether or not they are able to harness the person they were at that age and to feel the music the way they did when they were younger,” he said. “And sometimes you can’t do that. But I would hope, as everybody hopes, that the music that one makes is going to live with the people who enjoyed it, at whatever age they found it, for the rest of their lives.”
The Postal Service will play Coachella again next weekend and can be seen touring around the U.S. from the end of May until August — for fans both new and old.