Former Lives

  • Record Label: Barsuk
  • Release Date: Oct 16, 2012

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
Buy On
  1. Oct 12, 2012
    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.
  2. Oct 17, 2012
    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.
  3. Oct 15, 2012
    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.
  4. Uncut
    Oct 26, 2012
    His first solo outing has enabled Ben Gibbard to try on new stylistic contexts as if they were outfits. [Dec 2012, p.71]
  5. Q Magazine
    Nov 21, 2012
    The Death Cab For Cutie man turned his vision to a series of alternate realities. [Dec 2012, p.105]
  6. Oct 16, 2012
    It's heartbreak made perfect, and there are loads of perverse pleasure in that.
  7. Nov 9, 2012
    While it's obviously been personally cathartic, you have to think that it's far from the best record Benjamin could have put out.
  8. Oct 12, 2012
    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.
  9. Oct 16, 2012
    While still being firmly planted in the category of mainstream indie rock, the album is all over the place both thematically and musically.
  10. Oct 16, 2012
    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.
  11. 83
    His earnest songwriting still skews saccharine, but more often than not, Former Lives is lovely.
  12. 60
    While the record doesn't completely clear the bar, all things considered, it doesn't fall too far short.
  13. Alternative Press
    Oct 19, 2012
    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]
  14. Oct 16, 2012
    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.
  15. Oct 16, 2012
    What's most frustrating about Former Lives is that for every single shining moment there are two or three that subsequently fall flat.
  16. Oct 23, 2012
    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.
  17. Dec 7, 2012
    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.
  18. Oct 16, 2012
    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.
  19. Dec 17, 2012
    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.
  20. 60
    Former Lives shares similarities with Gibbard's Postal Service work; elsewhere his scattershot stylistic approach weakens songs.
  21. Oct 12, 2012
    Gibbard's carving out new musical territory on Former Lives, while amplifying the broken heart of what makes his sound so wonderful.
  22. 70
    Former Lives rolls along with solidly steady results, but there aren't too many songs that stand out.
  23. 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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 6 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
    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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