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Ganging Up On The Sun
Reprise Records

I miss Guster. I miss those quirky guys who played drums with their hands and wrote songs that were seemingly bordering on silly, but had such incredibly well-built hooks that you couldn't help but be rapt in wonder while they were playing. I miss those lyrics that were somehow very catchy while having a sort of wild edge that made you think you had no idea what they might really be talking about, even though you thought you knew what they might be talking about. I miss the fact that Guster could have been the younger sibling band to Violent Femmes, before they lost their unique edge and got a bit... older… but we all get older.

Before you get the wrong idea from all my eulogizing about the old Guster, sit back and let me take a few minutes to tell you why I absolutely love the new Guster. I love the confidence that the new record exhibits, with some slower, more intimate songs and a greater degree of fine production. Songs like "Satellite" that ooze raw emotion in a laid back groove that would have been impossible for the young Guster to pull off. Or a crafty 60's pop vibe like "Manifest Destiny" that reminds of the earlier albums while simultaneously showing a tremendous amount of growth, both musically and lyrically. The single "One Man Wrecking Machine" could stand on its own as Guster's legacy to the musical world… the amazing song combines the greatness found in all their previous albums into one grand opus track. That is, the track is filled with immediately memorable and honest lyrics, catchy musical hooks, and a sense of reckless hope that could only come from the minds of Guster. Then all of a sudden, Guster becomes late 70's Jackson Browne on "C'Mon"… the track is all solidly pounding rhythms, classy shakers, and brilliant melodies backed by glorious harmonies.

Ganging Up On The Sun features some of the finest lyrics that Ryan Miller and company have ever produced. For instance, the chiming beauty of "Dear Valentine" is not only robust in sound, channeling the spirit of Snow Patrol's finest moments, but features lyrics that read like a confusing Fante novel. "As I fall asleep to black and white t.v./ fly far away in my recurring dream/ each winter drains electricity/ there are words to say there are songs to sing/ but I can hardly speak at all". There are themes of embittered desolation scattered among the hope and realities found on this new record, but the poetry is stunning at times, words mixing to create lyrical cocktails that fascinate as they unwind. "We're not sentimental we're just oil filled machines/ trying not to say the things we mean/ you gotta show us a little love."

So, yeah, still a very great Guster… just a bit more mature and thoughtful. Not a bad thing. Just different. And very, very memorable. I love you, Guster.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Lightning Rod
2. Satellite
3. Manifest Destiny
4. One Man Wrecking Machine
5. The Captain
6. The New Underground
7. Ruby Falls
8. C'Mon
9. Empire State
10. Dear Valentine
11. The Beginning Of The End
12. Hang On

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