The Postmarks: Memoirs at the End of the World

Memoirs at the End of the World, The Postmarks' second full-length of originals, generally exudes a more aggressive feel than the trio's 2007 debut album, with almost every song on the new release treated to a full-bodied arrangement. The group hasn't lost its core sound, however, as the signature vocals of Tel Aviv-born Tim Yehezkely and the band's penchant for classic pop and cinematic arrangements remain solidly intact. There's still an anthemic dimension in play that suggests Yehezkely, Jonathan Wilkins, and Christopher Moll spent long hours soaking up James Bond soundtracks during the carefree afternoons of their youth (attested to by the instrumental “Theme From Memoirs”). For every song like “Run Away Love” that could fit snugly on the debut album, there's something like the charging “For Better…Or Worse?” that offers a glimpse of the band's tougher side. And let's not forget the group's talent for transporting hooks, as the breezy “Go Jetsetter” (the first Yehezkely-penned single, it turns out) makes amply clear.

At times, The Postmarks sometimes give the impression they wish the ‘60s never ended. The group boosts the thirteen-track album with an oft-epic production style that can't help but invoke reference to Phil Spector; one listen to the strings, kettle drums, and castanets that lend such symphonic kick to the breezy opener “No One Said This Would Be Easy” and you'll feel like you've been teleported forty years back in time. A classic Motown vibe imbues the soaring hooks of “My Lucky Charm” with a sweet and delectable innocence that makes it hard to resist too. Anchored by a serenading sway, “Thorn in Your Side” offers a swooning respite from the intensity of the opening songs, while “Gone” ends the album on a note of string-laden languour. As if purposefully designed to challenge any retrograde labeling, “Don't Know Till You Try” shakes off its ‘60s veneer and moves the group closer to the present with a bleepy rocker replete with theremin warble. The inclusion of a dulcimer-like instrument gives “The Girl From Algenib” a slightly Arabian vibe but the song's pop hooks ensures that it remains unmistakably Postmarks material.

Yehezkely in particular benefits from the return to exclusively original material, as doing so ensures that no comparisons can be made to others' vocal performancess, as inevitably occurred when the group issued last year's By The Numbers. While the album stood out as an admirably inspired concept and a generally successful project overall, her singing couldn't help but fall short in attempting to live up to definitive vocal performances by David Bowie (one covers “Five Years” at one's peril) or Bob Marley (though The Postmarks' treatment of “Three Little Birds” does possess an indelible charm of its own).

October 2009