11 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On their first album in four years, Guster update their patented straight-ahead guitar pop with a kind of graceful songcraft. Yet the melodies—the aching, effortless kind that mix hummable joy with sadness—stay intact, even on the up-charged “Simple Machine,” with its bouncing synth lines and handclaps. The album is artfully balanced; the shoegaze (well, Beatle-esque) guitar chime of “Lazy Love” matches the yearning nostalgia of “Kid Dreams,” which matches the lazy, brass-backed stroll of “Never Coming Down.” Both the title tune and the droning “The Long Night” would beautifully soundtrack any late-night drive down some open wintery road.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On their first album in four years, Guster update their patented straight-ahead guitar pop with a kind of graceful songcraft. Yet the melodies—the aching, effortless kind that mix hummable joy with sadness—stay intact, even on the up-charged “Simple Machine,” with its bouncing synth lines and handclaps. The album is artfully balanced; the shoegaze (well, Beatle-esque) guitar chime of “Lazy Love” matches the yearning nostalgia of “Kid Dreams,” which matches the lazy, brass-backed stroll of “Never Coming Down.” Both the title tune and the droning “The Long Night” would beautifully soundtrack any late-night drive down some open wintery road.

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Customer Reviews

4 out of 5

119 Ratings

Go back to your roots

J McDonald,

Guster should go back to where they started with the rock feeling and bongos. That's what got them to this point, so why change? This new electronic sound is boring, it doesn't sound like the guster we got to know and love at all.

Guster Gets Artsy!

Kevbo_04,

Let me preface this review by saying that I am a long-time Guster fan. I love Parachute as much as the next Guster loyalist (possibly more). Over their time, Guster has added more electric sounds and strayed from their bongo-driven, raw sound. But HERE’S THE CATCH: Guster has continually kept the sound fresh. Though this new record is very electronic, it is far from selling out. Guster, like any true artists, have always focused on “saying something” with their music; they focus on lyrics and trying different things. Over the years since Parachute, they have honed their song crafting skills. Each of these songs are incredibly clever—from the melody in the lyrics to the percussion, to their subtle instrument choices give a very flavorful, textural experience that can be appreciated a wide variety of audiences. This review is long, but I would definitely recommend a Buy on this one. Guster is still doing the thing they do so well: Write good music.

About Guster

Although they evolved into a full-fledged pop band, Guster began their career as a quirky acoustic trio. The band, whose three co-founders met during freshmen year at Tufts University, spent most of the 1990s touring the college circuit and releasing independent albums, all of which featured hand percussion in lieu of a traditional drum set. Released in 1999, Lost and Gone Forever widened the band’s sound considerably, and the follow-up album found percussionist Brian Rosenworcel playing a drum set on several songs. Multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia joined the lineup in 2003, allowing Guster more freedom to explore a combination of folk, pop, and rock.

Guster formed in 1991, when Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, and Brian Rosenworcel first crossed paths at college orientation. Originally called Gus, the trio played local shows around the Boston area before releasing an independent album, Parachute, in 1994. By 1996, they’d elongated their name to Guster and recorded a second album, Goldfly, which netted the band a contract with Sire Records. Sire reissued Goldfly in 1998, and the bandmates decamped to a recording studio later that year to work with producer Steve Lillywhite. Released in 1999, Long and Gone Forever became the band’s unofficial breakthrough album, cracking the lower reaches of the Billboard charts and spinning off a hit single, “Fa Fa,” which peaked at number 26 on the Adult Top 40.

Compared to Guster's early albums, Long and Gone Forever was downright lush, with strings and horn sections beefing up the band's standard mix of bongos, vocal harmonies, and folk-pop songwriting. Guster went even further with their follow-up effort, Keep It Together, which featured drum kit percussion and contributions from a talented multi-instrumentalist named Joe Pisapia. The album was released during the summer of 2003, where it cracked the Top 40. Meanwhile, the band also released a “fake” version of the record, The Meowstro Sings: Guster's Keep It Together, in which Guster’s vocal tracks were replaced with simulated cat meows. The so-called “meow mixes” were released online in an attempt to battle illegal file sharing.

Several months after Keep It Together’s release, Pisapia joined the group permanently. He made his official debut on the 2004 concert album Guster on Ice, which found the guys playing selections from all of their albums. Now a four-piece outfit, Guster returned in 2006 with their richest-sounding album to date, Ganging Up on the Sun. The group's sixth studio album, Easy Wonderful, which was partially recorded in Pisapia's Middletree Studios in Nashville, was released in October of 2010. Around that time, Pisapia announced he wouldn't be touring with the band any longer, choosing instead to play with k.d. lang full-time. He was replaced in the touring lineup by guitarist Luke Reynolds, a former member of the band Blue Merle. The Richard Swift-produced Evermotion, the band's seventh studio long-player, arrived in early 2015 via their own Ocho Mule label. ~ Andrew Leahey

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