Review : The Postmarks - By-the-Numbers
PitchforkmediaLast year's self-titled debut by sumptuous South Florida trio the Postmarks was full of songs that sounded like they might've been covers. Christopher Moll and Jonathan Wilkins, both previously of a Stereolab-leaning outfit called See Venus, crafted lavish, loungey arrangements that merged bossa nova, John Barry film scores, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, and vintage French pop within direct, pure-pop songcraft enamored of romance and rainy days. Tel Aviv-born singer Tim Yehezkely's shy whisper was a perfect final ingredient, evoking twee-poppers like the Softies or Camera Obscura as well as the seductive sophisti-pop of Unfiltered label chiefs Ivy.
The Postmarks' second full-length actually is a covers album-- and a fine one, at that. By-the-Numbers follows the band's beguiling online-only recordings of Astrud Gilberto's swoonsome love song "Dreamer" and, more adventurously, Ministry's "Everyday Is Halloween". The project began as a monthly series of cover songs to be posted on eMusic, but by September the group had realized they had enough material for another proper album instead. There's one (yes, slightly precious) organizing principle: Each of the songs has a number in its title, counting up from 1 to 11, until the finale, the counting-to-12 "Pinball Number Drop" originally sung by the Pointer Sisters for "Sesame Street"....full text
AllmusicIn 2008, the Postmarks released a new song digitally every month, each song being a cover version of a tune featuring a number in the title that corresponded to the number of the month -- a pretty good idea to fight off the blahs of a tanking music industry and the rigors of recording an album all at once. The songs were all collected and released in November under the title By-the-Numbers. While many of the songs the group selected to cover are intriguing (Ride's "OX4" and the Ramones' "7-11"), inspired (the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Nine Million Rainy Days"), or totally left-field (the Ventures' "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue"), many are also somewhat obvious (the Bond theme "You Only Live Twice," Jobim's "One Note Samba"), ill-suited for the group (the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," David Bowie's "Five Years"), or just plain wrong (Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds"). Luckily, the band treats each song, even the less interesting ones, with a great deal of care and sympathy, wrapping them in warm clouds of reverb and gentle instrumentation that capture the autumnal melancholic beauty that their first album had. Tim Yehezkely's vocals prove up to the task of interpreting each song wonderfully as well (save the version of "Five Years," which just wasn't made for hushed reflection); she gives the sad songs a bucketload of pathos and keeps things somewhat breezy on the more lighthearted tracks. Some songs work better than others, mainly the ones that seem like strange picks. Their take on "OX4" strips away the epic nature of Ride's original and gets to the core of the song's intrinsic loneliness. (Oddly enough, the song ends up sounding more like the Cure than the version of the Cure's "Six Different Ways" the band attempts later.) Also defying expectations are the sprightly girl group-inspired "7-11" that comes complete with Spector-ized percussion, a surprisingly rocking version of Blondie's "11:59," and a totally surprising overhaul of "Eight Miles High" that turns the song into a Morricone-esque epic. Apart from a couple fumbles, By-the-Numbers turns out to be a successfully executed concept and a very pleasant listen. A proper follow-up with original compositions would have been preferable, but as holding patterns go, this one is just fine....full text
SpinGimmicky yet compelling, the delicate second album by Miami's Postmarks presents 11 numerically titled covers in ascending order, plus Sesame Street's cute "Pinball Number Count." Languid Tim Yehezkely sings like she's dissolving into the mist, staying true to the elegant anxiety of Bowie's "Five Years" and transforming Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" into a touching reverie. If the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" seems limp, the Bond theme "You Only Live Twice" and the Ramones' girl-group ode "7-11" highlight the trio's gift for mining genuine emotion from quaint styles....full text
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