Songs that have shaped my love life: Postal Service, Brand New Colony

The Postal Service is another one of my favorite bands that no longer exists. If you’ve heard of them before, you probably already know that The Postal Service is one of those “side project” bands, formed by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello, aka Dntel.

It’s also one of the bands my husband and I connected over. We both really like the song “Brand New Colony,” although the whole Give Up album is pretty much flawless.

I mean, how can you not love a guy who wants to whisk you away from everything that’s cynical and boring about the world, to a place where passion knows no bounds?

To literally start a Brand New Colony of just You and Me? Now that’s love!

Or obsession, if you read my Sarah McLachlan post

But let’s assume the former, shall we? Yes, let’s!

Oddly enough, “Brand New Colony” opens with some Super Mario samples that neither my husband and I care for, but there’s just something about the lyrics of this song that overcome our distaste for the accompanying audio. Maybe it’s the repetition of the words “Everything will change.”

As the old joke goes, “Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

I think part of the allure about The Postal Service is the fact that the band really and truly developed their songs by sending clips back and forth via the U.S. Postal Service, and by leaving messages on each other’s answering machines (you know, those things that took messages for you before voicemail?). It’s all very anachronistic – in this modern world of digital music clips on Soundcloud and YouTube videos – thinking about having to burn a clip to a CD or a flash drive, stick it in an actual envelope and mail it off to someone in another state, wait for them to receive it, listen to it, and then mail you back a clip of their own.

Collaboration is all so much easier now. And yet it remains just as difficult, doesn’t it? Trying to get people to work together, even when there is no physical barrier to doing the work, can be a lot like herding cats. And I guess that could be part of the reason why this band fell apart. Some say it was personality clashes, others say it was getting sued by the USPS for using their name, and still others just don’t care one way or another. I’ve got no real speculations about the behind the scenes stuff; I figure some bands only have one album in them, and some prefer the drama (ahem, Fleetwood Mac) while others value their own sanity.

So how does any of this reflect my love life?

Well, way back in the year 2007 when I was looking for love online, I posted a description of all the things I wanted from a potential partner that I called “Wanted: A Lover.” It detailed a lot of the stuff that I thought I wanted or needed from a man, and included many ridiculous things like “must have a Salvador Dalí mustache.” I also included some lyrics from different songs I liked, some of which were by The Postal Service.

I got a lot of notes from dudes who thought my inclusion of these lyrics meant that we were Meant To Be, even though they probably couldn’t have told me what those lyrics even meant.

Google some lyrics. It’s not hard. You just cut and paste, and the name of the band pops right up. How does Googling song lyrics equate to relationship potential?

I asked some of these dudes exactly that, suggesting they were just poseurs. They got huffy and pissed off. I liked not having to waste my time on them.

Basically, I separated the wheat from the chaff using The Postal Service as my boy bait. The ones that got it didn’t have to mention the lyrics, or ask if I was a fan. The ones that didn’t got pissy when I wouldn’t acknowledge their “intelligence.”

And my husband? He just messaged me to say he thought we’d have a lot of fun together, and we should go grab a coffee soon.

After perusing his online dating profile, I figured him for a bit of a narcissist and the type of guy who was only interested in hooking up. (He had some very artsy pictures of his good-looking self on his profile, and I made some negative assumptions.) I didn’t think much would come of it, despite his hilarious profile – which featured this picture of tigers in a hot tub, and which (he later informed me) girls were constantly confused about, asking “So, you own tigers?”


Um, no, lady. I like tigers, I like hot tubs, and I like chillin’, don’t you?!

Anyway, I stood him up on our first date in order to go out with another dude that I thought was attractive, but who apparently didn’t think much of me simply because I was late for our coffee date. (To be fair, I had had a blind guy thrust upon me by an irritated bus driver as I set out toward the metro for my date, and I had to help this random citizen make it downtown, even though I’d never guided a blind person in my life, and did a pretty terrible job of it.) Not even a goodnight kiss from Mr. Freeze!

The next day, my husband messaged me to ask if he’d missed me or shown up at the wrong time or what. I fibbed and told him I had been too pissed off about one of the wheels being stolen off my bicycle that day (something that had really happened earlier in the week, though not that day), and had just gone home.

He asked if we could reschedule.

I said yes.

We met up for coffee, and the rest is history. We did, in fact, form our very own Brand New Colony when we got married on June 7, 2008. Finally, a pop song that matches up with reality.

So if you like tigers in hot tubs, a perfectly made latté, and The Postal Service, well… get thee to an online dating site and make some magic happen!

Want more pop song insights?

What pop songs make you think about love? How have pop songs influenced your relationships? Check out Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From Pop Songs for more essays about love songs by the people who love them.