I don’t think I ever officially “got into” Guster with everyone else. They’ve always been this band that I heard my friends liked but I never actually checked them out too in-depth. I remember putting a CD in a few years back and instantly being like “what the thell is this?” I’m not going to lie, I didn’t get it and I guess I wanted to try and understand or get them for some reason, but they always went right past me. However, now that the band has decided to try Ganging Up On The Sun, count me among the new fans. This album is so well-made, it’s like porn for my ears. Hearkening the sounds of XTC, the Beatles’ White Album and latter-day Beach Boys, this album has been ringing from my CD player for three days with no signs of leaving any time soon.
Here’s how I see it: either Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller, and Brian Rosenworcel, who have been playing together since 1991, have matured a great deal since the last time I heard them, or maybe I wasn’t ready to hear them before now. But after listening to this new CD, I’m going back to check out old Guster records to find out exactly what I was missing. The music is extremely catchy vintage pop-rock with nuanced twists, somewhat like Fountains of Wayne with less dry comedy and more straight-ahead good vibration. I think I’ve always expected them to sound like a jam band or something because of their legions of fans. Nothing could be further from the truth — there’s tons of surf rock, horn sections, layer after layer of guitars and keyboards and gorgeous harmonies plastered throughout the record. The record covers a wide array of themes — it opens with an obvious anti-war song called “Lightning Rod”, moves deftly into “Satellite” — a song that I kinda hope we all have heard every hour for the next year because, really, that’s the kind of song it is — then straight into this track which might be my favorite from the album, entitled “Manifest Destiny”. There really isn’t a single bad track on the record, and just when I thought I’d heard everything, the album seems to reprise itself starting with the song “Empire State” heading full throttle into another favorite from the record, “Dear Valentine”. It really is a relentlessly well-made album from beginning to end.
Guster apparently has one of those incredible followings that I’m blind about — but I have to think that this album is sneaking up on people who have been fans of the band for many years. Whether you’ve been waiting for it or not, I want to assure you all: Ganging Up On The Sun is a wild ride well worth taking, Mr. Toad. I hope to catch them on tour this summer with Ray LaMontagne, and you should hope to as well.
Listen to Guster – Manifest Destiny
You can pre-order Ganging Up On The Sun by clickity-clicking right here and if you were to buy it, you will not be disappointed.