We gave it an A-
Possibly emo’s greatest tunesmith (a small claim, but still), Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard radiates claustrophobia, so the shut-in synth-pop of this side project fits him like a leotard. A lushly lo-fi set about trying to reinvent yourself through love (and art), it begins in Washington, D.C., and travels west, taking Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis along as harmonist and muse. And while the narrator doesn’t exactly find salvation, Gibbard finds the near-perfect pop record that’s eluded his main group. COVER BOYS Check the Service’s ”Such Great Heights” CD single for Give Up remakes by pop-drunk labelmates the Shins and folkie mystic Iron and Wine.