Electronic artist Tycho, aka Scott Hansen, and indie icon Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, have come together for the new song “Only Love.” A demo of the track previously appeared on the voting rights compilation Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy last year.
This is Gibbard’s first major electronic collaboration since his work with The Postal Service, which put out one perfect album, Give Up, and then all but disbanded. That record sparkled like a city at night, but this new single “Only Love” is as warm and inviting as a summer morning. With bright drums, a background pulse of bass, and an occasional breeze from gentle guitars, the song evokes Earth’s natural wonders as Gibbard sings, “Only love will save this place.”
“‘Only Love’ started life as an instrumental, but something was missing,” Hansen said in a statement. “I sent a rough demo to Ben and he recorded some vocals over it. The first time I heard the rough vocals the whole song suddenly made sense and the arrangement flowed out of that… It was certainly an honor to be able to work with such an iconic voice.”
For his part, Gibbard drew inspiration from nonfiction. “In 2014 while reading This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein, I came across a quote from Montanan goat rancher and environmentalist Alexis Bonogofsky that moved me immensely,” he said. “Speaking about the fight to protect public lands in southeastern Montana from the mining company Arch Coal, she said: ‘(The) connection to this place and the love people have for it, that’s what Arch Coal doesn’t get. They underestimate that. They don’t understand it so they disregard it. And that’s what in the end will save that place. It’s not the hatred for the coal companies or anger, but love will save this place.’
“When Scott sent me the music for ‘Only Love,’ it seemed perfect for this statement. Since reading Alexis’ words, I’ve carried them as a universal truth; that the only way we preserve the people, places or things we care for is with love, not hatred. This is often easier said than done, of course. But I find myself coming back to her statement as if it were a mantra.”
The song comes with a visualizer designed by Hansen, and you can check it out below. Last year, Hansen dropped his most recent album as Tycho, Simulcast. As for Gibbard, you can catch him on the road later this year on Death Cab for Cutie’s 2021 tour. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or on the secondary market here.