Guster
Easy Wonderful


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
October 4th, 2010 | 24 replies | 12,676 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Guster growing old.

Growing old kind of sucks. Although I’m only in my last year of college and thus fairly young in the scheme of things, everything’s already gone down hill – since my 21st birthday has passed me by, the only notable birthday event I have to look forward to is my 25th and a reduction in my car insurance rates, not to mention a decreased metabolism, more bills, and (hopefully but not really) a Monday-Friday job. Talk about an exciting landmark! My warped sense of my own rapidly accelerating age is already cropping up in my music tastes: I want everything to sound like my favorite albums and bands of all time, which I inevitably listened to in my latter high school years and whose follow-ups inevitably disappoint because nothing stacks up to that wide-eyed wonder of hearing something that changes everything. Take Guster, for instance, calmly making what amounts to the same pop-rock-with-an-unfair-ear-for-hooks since 1999’s classic Lost and Gone Forever, with varying degrees of success. I’ve gotten older, and Guster’s fans have definitely gotten older – I recently attended a show where the majority of the audience was way past college and hovering around the black hole of their 30s – but Guster have pretty much stayed exactly the same, and it doesn’t seem to mean a damn thing. Maybe that’s why they’re one of the few bands from my high school days that have yet to truly disappoint me.

Now the critical part of me finds plenty to dislike with this, their sixth album. It’s absolutely nonthreatening – if I had to compare Easy Wonderful to a living thing, it’d be a koala bear, cuddly and furry with a strict vegetarian diet. Drummer Brian Rosenworcel’s brilliant hand drumming, which defined the band’s early sound and still makes their live shows one of my favorites, has been, by and large, neutered to a standard sticks-and-pedals kit. Adam Gardner’s lovely baritone is now reserved strictly for backing vocals, and singer Ryan Miller shows an increasing love for saccharine lyrics and chintzy sentiments that would best be left in a Hallmark card. In other words, it’s the same gradual progression towards “dad-rock” that Ganging Up On The Sun hinted at, but with one slight addendum: Guster is still churning out some of the best melodies of their career.

It’s why I know that Guster will always be the security blanket of my musical existence when they keep tossing out effortless gems like unreasonably catchy first single “Do You Love Me.” Hell, any band that can use song titles like that or “Bad Bad World” or (God help us) “This Is How It Feels To Have A Broken Heart” and make me immediately forgive them when that melody hits has my respect. Guster have been doing this a long time, and occasionally it shows, but I can’t think of another band who, song-for-song, keep coming up with choruses and hooks that stay in my head when other, more “challenging” albums gather dust until I have to write my end-of-year lists. There’s been better songs this year, but few more likely to have me singing along in my highest pitch than “That’s No Way To Heaven” and fewer still with the potential to kick around my skull for weeks like “Do You Want,” or “Architects and Engineers,” or virtually everything else here. There’s nothing more groundbreaking here than some well-placed banjo twang, and Easy Wonderful hasn’t made me think or made me call up a friend late at night caught in some ten-minute-plus audio brilliance. This is just guitars, bass, drums, and harmonies, and it’s absolutely, relentlessly gorgeous. If Guster can grow old and still sound so damn cheerful, maybe everything won’t be so drab after all.



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user ratings (38)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010



10239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fun fact: first ever album streamed by the Wall Street Journal

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

EVedder27
October 4th 2010



6088 Comments


fun fact: gonna get right now

Romulus
October 4th 2010



8410 Comments


great review, some of my friends are in love with this band. should i check this out if i thought Lost and Gone Forever was decent-to-good?

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010



10239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'd say so, just don't expect to be blown away

EVedder27
October 4th 2010



6088 Comments


first paragraph is becoming so true for me too, and I'm graduating in January :/

SeaAnemone
October 4th 2010



19677 Comments


oh cool I'm glad you liked this! even though you're the Guster expert and I'm the newbie haha

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010



10239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

don't think i couldn't like a guster album

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 4th 2010



17195 Comments


i knew this would be yours

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2010



20855 Comments


In his sound-off, Eric mentioned fun. In his recos, Rudy mentioned Wilco.

Hmmm.

bailar14
October 5th 2010



1603 Comments


clicked on this cuz i misread it as gunther

guess ill check it out now

Masochist
October 5th 2010



7956 Comments


I've been looking forward to this one all year; Guster's 'Lost and Gone Forever' is amazing, an absolute romp of pessimism (and the best song about masturbation this side of "Longview") disguised in a bright sunshiny package, so I'm excited. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint!

AggravatedYeti
October 5th 2010



7684 Comments


klapper raps about life.
equals good review?
hmmmmmmm.

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 5th 2010



10239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the wilco rec was only really parts of the wilco album and sky blue sky, like you and i


that rhymed, unintentionally

Gyromania
October 5th 2010



15164 Comments


It’s absolutely nonthreatening – if I had to compare Easy Wonderful to a living thing, it’d be a koala bear, cuddly and furry with a strict vegetarian diet.

Haha, I absolutely love this line. You really do well to sell the band, and this sounds simple but effective. I might look into it. Great review, Rudy.

mvdu
October 5th 2010



599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, it has such simple charm - no trendiness at all except for the last song, "Do What You Want," which has some techno beat - but still works within the style. The melody is just as strong on "Do What You Want." While a little faster pace would help at times, this is a refreshingly simple pop album that still has plenty of craft.


Fieryfenderz
October 5th 2010



1421 Comments


fun fact, got this cd a week early at their first show on this tour in Nashville. Another fun fact. It's awesome.

El_Goodo
October 6th 2010



1008 Comments


Review is about right, I was really excited for this album and it's good but it's not as good as Ganging Up On The Sun, Lost & Gone Forever or Keep it Together.

That said there are some great tracks Do You Love Me? stands up with the best tracks from those aforementioned albums and I'm currently in love Stay With Me Jesus (and I am not a religious person) and That's Not Way To Get To Heaven, anyone else notice the melody rip from Caillou http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhSh_sD0OtU ?

klap
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2010



10239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

those are probably my three favorite songs

airflex1
October 8th 2010



1 Comments


interesting mix of sounds...would be very interested to know which songs were pre and post outside producer. Very different mix and (lack of) lushness from track to track.

"Do what you want" - try that after revisiting Tillbrook of Squeeze doing "goodbye girl"...

regardless, a great listen and plenty 'o hooks.

astrel
October 11th 2010



2614 Comments


Not the hugest fan of Guster, but they sure put on a kickass live show.



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