Ten years ago, Jimmy Tamborello merged experimental glitch electronica with a savvy taste for indie-pop on Life Is Full of Possibilities, to critical acclaim. From the droning opening anthem of “Umbrella” to aptly named closer “Last Songs,” Life Is Full of Possibilities combined dark, ominous noise with catchy click tracks and a well-tenured team of indie-pop guest vocalists. Those ten tracks, especially “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” (featuring Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard on vocals) would go on to kick off a sort of renaissance in lap-pop, and implicitly encouraged more widespread fusion between indie rock and electronic music.
Needless to say, after a decade of influence, listening to this album will never be the same. In ten years, featuring elements of IDM or glitch electronica in indie rock and pop anthems has gone from novel to cliché. Dntel’s underground success, as well as the popularity of Tamborello and Gibbard’s subsequent duo The Postal Service, spurred a lot of mimicry over the following decade, some of it enjoyable and some rather embarrassing.
So, after all this time, Life Is Full of Possibilities indeed sounds a bit still. But when viewed in its place in time, it’s still just as brilliant. The remastered tracks ring a little better through a stereo than the original release and the bonus disc offers an assortment of remixes and b-sides that showcase the various influences Dntel’s music had on other artists and collaborators. However, the flow of the second disc isn’t very solid, and the track are best treated as singles, to be loaded onto your iPod or iPhone and listened to on shuffle with other electronica. Also, if you’ve collected all of Dntel’s other releases, there are only two brand new remixes on this release, which is a let-down if you were expecting a lot of new material.
Still, if you’re a fan of Jimmy from way back when, this two-disc set (both CD and vinyl are packaged in a beautiful red and white fold-out sleeve) will make an excellent collector’s item. And if you’re a fan of the Postal Service or any of the albums listed below, it’s worth the investment to a get a copy of this album in some form.
Intramural – This Is a Landslide
Múm – Finally We Are No One
The Postal Service – Give Up