Release Date: Jan 13, 2015
Record label: Nettwerk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Guster have never been an especially “active” band if judged by the quantity of their recorded output. With 2015’s seventh offering, Evermotion, Guster is found settling into a laid-back groove. Since Easy Wonderful, they have gained a member (Luke Reynolds) and left the major label world behind. What results is a fine reminder that quality over quantity is a goal worth striving for.
The seventh studio long-player from the affable, East Coast alt-rock veterans, Evermotion retains the soaring melodicism and on-the-nose (in a good way) pop architecture of Guster's earlier work, but the band has come a long way from its college rock-ready acoustic guitar- and hand percussion-led beginnings. Bolstered by layers of sequencers, breezy synth pads, and cavernous harmonies, the 11-track set, which was produced by musical polymath Richard Swift (the Shins, Damien Jurado, Foxygen), goes out of its way to separate itself, at least sonically, from prior outings, but Guster's penchant for blending stadium-ready Brit-pop grandeur with proletarian American trad rock guitar noodling ultimately wins out -- much like the Shins' Port of Morrow, which adopted a similar electro-pop sheen, it's comfort food disguised as haute cuisine; it also feels a little late to the party. That said, the band is too talented a pop-making machine to unleash a complete dud, and standout cuts like the propulsive first single "Simple Machine," the breezy, north country rambler "Never Coming Down," and the sumptuous opener "Long Night" -- the latter of which skillfully pairs the infectious, circular gait of the Beta Band's "Dry the Rain" with the icy expansiveness of Coldplay's "Clocks" -- engage on nearly every level.
Review Summary: An album that noticeably tries too hard.In terms of mainstream indie-pop, it doesn’t get any more by-the-books than Guster. They’ve made a relatively successful career out of crafting easily digestible, highly infectious tunes that are somehow just as thoughtful as they are unabashedly mainstream. ‘Satellite’, ‘Architects & Engineers’, and ‘Do You Love Me’ have all probably blasted through your car’s speakers before, regardless of whether or not you knew who they were at the time.
The guys of Guster — singer-guitarists Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner, and drummer Brian Rosenworcel — started out with acoustic guitars and bongos in dorm rooms at Tufts University and, naturally, evolved easily into a full-bodied pop-rock band that takes full advantage of studio bells and whistles. They also picked up newest permanent member, multi-instrumentalist, Luke Reynolds in 2010. So there’s something delightful in the idea that the quartet decided to take a lower-fi approach to its latest album, yet ultimately created something so sonically rich that it belies that approach — without harking back to their earlier sound — but instead takes a next step.