What do you do when the ground under your feet caves in? If you’re Postcards, you dive headlong into the deep murky waters. On their 2020 sophomore album, the Lebanese three-piece have grown up, and grown dark. In the process, they’ve created a hauntingly beautiful work that’s welcoming and chilling in equal measure. From the first stab of distorted guitar to the final softly-plucked arpeggio, The Good Soldier wraps around you and doesn’t let go. It’s a fever dream of an album, relentless in its quest for answers.
Building on the success of their breakthrough 2018 debut, the new album extends the range of their jangly dream-pop sound into slowcore, post-punk and surf rock territory. Two-minute pop gems sit beside epic slow-burners. And Julia Sabra’s captivating wispy voice floats atop it all, guiding you through an immaculately-crafted sonic world of crashing guitars, melodic bass lines, slithering drums, buzzing synthesizers and ambient passages, co-courtesy of bandmates Marwan Tohme and Pascal Semerdjian.
The band draws from an encyclopaedic knowledge of the past decades of alternative music: the 60s stylings of Yo La Tengo, the dense foggy 90s rock of Slowdive and Low, the ambient-meets heavenly-wandering-vocals of Grouper, the cool innocence of yeye singers like Françoise Hardy, the psychedelic pop of Broadcast - to cite but a few - all find their way into the band's palette. The record drips with atmosphere, its cinematic aura recalling Julie Cruise's otherworldly songs in Twin Peaks or Air's icy soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides.
Postcards had previously channeled their home country’s turbulent past (and present) into their music. Like implicit notions in a dream, hopelessness and alienation are woven into the fabric of their songs: the members attempting to find themselves amidst the chaos, acknowledging the inevitability of disaster, caught between retreating and fighting back. But if debut I’ll be here in the morning was taking stock of the situation, The Good Soldier confronts it head-on. Melancholy giving way to rage - obsessive, barely-contained rage, diffusing and engulfing everything. This reckoning is an intense, long and complex process - but the band plods on and pushes through, looking for the light.
Within the darkness, safe spaces materialize. The beautiful artwork, which features delicate framed photographs of interiors, at first seems to stand in sharp contrast to the controlled chaos of the music. But home - or the idea of home - is a powerful shield against the cruelty of a world in disarray where nothing’s yours: not the streets whose names you don’t know, nor the sea, claimed and held captive, not even the postmemories inherited from a war-scarred generation. And so the comfort of home, the anchor of normalcy, the orderliness of domesticity - even a fictional, clinical, uninhabited home - all act as weapon and balm. Much like the band’s music and the vast worlds it conjures.
With The Good Soldier, Postcards make good on the promise of I'll be here in the morning, in more than one way. They’re here to stay and they're fiercer than ever. They're fighting the good fight, erecting walls of sound to shelter each other, and us too. They’re building worlds, and you’re invited - to lose yourself, or perhaps to find something. Step right in.
released January 3, 2020
Music composed and performed by Postcards: Julia Sabra, Pascal Semerdjian and Marwan Tohme. Words by Julia Sabra. Additional arrangements by Fadi Tabbal. Mixed, recorded and engineered by Fadi Tabbal at Tunefork Studios, Lebanon. Mastered by Lopazz at Mixmastering, Germany. Produced by Postcards and Fadi Tabbal.
All photos by Rachel Tabet. Design by Josette ‘ZOoz’ El Khalil. Special thanks to Zeina Bassil, Rany Bechara, Thomas Franke, Fadi Tabbal, Rachel Tabet, Josette El Khalil, Karl Mattar, Sary Moussa, Anthony Sahyoun, and the rest of our Tunefork family for their support.
Postcards is a dream pop trio formed in 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. Their music is defined by hushed vocals floating over
expansive soundscapes that shift between harsh noise and dreamy atmospheres.
They have released 2 full-length albums and 3 EPs, all co-produced by Tunefork Studios' Fadi Tabbal.