Former Lives - Benjamin Gibbard
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. Comprised of many songs he has tucked away for years, the album is everything one might expect from a Gibbard solo album: daring, delicate, verbose and indelible.
  2. 83
    His earnest songwriting still skews saccharine, but more often than not, Former Lives is lovely.
  3. Dec 17, 2012
    80
    For those who have been along for the ride since the beginning this anthology is like unlocking a shiny, new bonus track for each of Gibbard's efforts since Something About Airplanes.
  4. Nov 21, 2012
    80
    The Death Cab For Cutie man turned his vision to a series of alternate realities. [Dec 2012, p.105]
  5. Oct 26, 2012
    80
    His first solo outing has enabled Ben Gibbard to try on new stylistic contexts as if they were outfits. [Dec 2012, p.71]
  6. Oct 19, 2012
    80
    Gibbard isn't reinventing himself with Former Lives, but after a decade and a half in the business, he proves he's still got a lot to say. [Nov 2012, p.88]
  7. Oct 16, 2012
    75
    Former Lives is a true solo album, with Gibbard showcasing a memorable and rewarding set of odds and ends from the last eight years of his songwriting career.
  8. Oct 12, 2012
    75
    Gibbard's carving out new musical territory on Former Lives, while amplifying the broken heart of what makes his sound so wonderful.
  9. Dec 7, 2012
    70
    In terms of overall quality though, it has to be said that things noticeably pick up in the album's second half, as any traditional indie rock sensibilities that Gibbard may have initially had start to recede and are replaced by a grittier, slightly more abstract edge.
  10. Oct 16, 2012
    70
    It's heartbreak made perfect, and there are loads of perverse pleasure in that.
  11. 70
    Former Lives rolls along with solidly steady results, but there aren't too many songs that stand out.
  12. Oct 12, 2012
    70
    It's simply a charming patchwork collection of songs from just shy of the last decade that never found a voice amongst the catalogue of Gibbard's other projects.
  13. Oct 23, 2012
    66
    Gibbard has better demonstrated his strength as one of the best songwriters of the last decade in the past, but ardent fans will appreciate the effort here.
  14. Oct 16, 2012
    63
    Gibbard's songwriting holds up in the gently varied sonic settings here though nothing feels as immediate as his day job in Death Cab for Cutie.
  15. 60
    Former Lives shares similarities with Gibbard's Postal Service work; elsewhere his scattershot stylistic approach weakens songs.
  16. Oct 17, 2012
    60
    Former Lives also falls prey to typical solo album problems, like stylistic explorations that a band might correctly veto as ill-fitting throwaways... and songs too slight to appear on a major release.. Yet [other] songs hint at how good Former Lives could have been had Gibbard simply indulged his pop storyteller side.
  17. Oct 16, 2012
    60
    For all his three relationships spanned and catchy tunes composed, Gibbard is too nice to dish it out, and too bland to reveal any meaningful lessons learned.
  18. Oct 15, 2012
    60
    Even as he shifts from his typically elliptical songwriting to more structure-bound forms, he never sounds overly fussy. It makes Former Lives a brisk listen even when the songs themselves aren't particularly innovative.
  19. 60
    While the record doesn't completely clear the bar, all things considered, it doesn't fall too far short.
  20. Oct 16, 2012
    58
    While still being firmly planted in the category of mainstream indie rock, the album is all over the place both thematically and musically.
  21. Nov 9, 2012
    50
    While it's obviously been personally cathartic, you have to think that it's far from the best record Benjamin could have put out.
  22. Oct 16, 2012
    50
    What's most frustrating about Former Lives is that for every single shining moment there are two or three that subsequently fall flat.
  23. Oct 12, 2012
    50
    With all its clean-cut melodies and smirky introspection, even Death Cab fans might have a hard time finding Former Lives more than a collection of melancholy, whimsical tunes.
User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 5 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 1 out of 1
  1. Oct 18, 2012
    3
    Pretty much every single song is mediocre on this album. They just are copies of other Death Cab For Cutie songs. Though, "Duncan, WherePretty much every single song is mediocre on this album. They just are copies of other Death Cab For Cutie songs. Though, "Duncan, Where Have You Gone?" copies of John Lennon.

    Good tracks:

    4. Bigger Than Love *****/*****
    8. Oh Woe ***/*****
    9. A Hard One to Know ****/*****
    10. Lady Adelaide ***/*****
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