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Ben Gibbard, ‘Teardrop Windows’ – Song Review

Ben Gibbard Former Lives
Barsuk Records

In Ben Gibbard‘s world, even buildings get bummed out. The Death Cab for Cutie frontman has unveiled ‘Teardrop Windows,’ the lead single from his forthcoming solo debut, ‘Former Lives,’ and it’s all about the Smith Tower, once the tallest — and apparently still the saddest — skyscraper in Seattle.

As Gibbard tells it, there’s just no pleasing the Smith. The song opens in the 1910s, when the 462-footer dominated the Emerald City skyline. Rather than stand proud, the mopey tower laments the fact “there’s no one there to share the view.” “When the sun sets over the sound,” Gibbard sings, his sighing delivery matching the guitar’s bittersweet jangle, “he just goes to sleep.”

The second verse jumps to 1962, when the Smith finally gets some company. Unfortunately, the new kid on the block is the Space Needle, an architectural marvel that soon steals his place on postcards and T-shirts and emerges as Seattle’s signature landmark. With prestige go commercial tenants, and before long, the building is back to its original dilemma.

“He is lonely, just like me and you,” Gibbard concludes, commiserating with the Smith as the Smiths might have done and generally living up to his reputation as one of indie’s cleverest malcontents.

‘Former Lives’ drops Oct. 16 via Barsuk.

Listen to Ben Gibbard, ‘Teardrop Windows’

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