An on-again, off-again side project responsible for one of the best-selling records in Sub Pop history, the Postal Service consists of Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and electro-pop producer Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel). The duo met in early 2001, when Gibbard contributed vocals to a song on Dntel's Life Is Full of Possibilities. They decided to collaborate, but since Tamborello lived in Los Angeles and Gibbard in Seattle, unfinished tracks were sent over the mail (hence the band name), with Gibbard layering vocals over Tamborello's blipping synths.
The resulting songs — which included vocals from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and singer Jen Wood — were eventually released in 2003 as Give Up (Number 114). The first single, "Such Great Heights" (2003), was sparse and warm, a heartbeat of a song; it was quickly embraced by both lovesick teens and 1980s-obsessed grown-ups. Two other EPs followed — The District Sleeps Alone Tonight (2003) and We Will Become Silhouettes (2005) — and Give Up enjoyed a long run on the college charts, eventually selling more than 650,000 copies. In 2004, the group became well known enough to draw the attention of the United States Postal Service, which issued a cease-and-desist order over the rights to its name; all was forgiven when Gibbard and Tamborello performed for a company function.
Because of the members' various commitments, Postal Service fans have had to make do with the occasional B-side or soundtrack contribution, most notably a gauzy version of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)." A follow-up album is in the works, with an intended late 2009 release.