Guster is one of those bands I cannot fathom hating. They aren’t one of my favorite bands, like Radiohead, nor are they hyped like crazy. I didn’t discover them through Rolling Stone magazine or even Sputnik, I found them through my local record store, something that isn’t done nearly enough these days. The reason I cannot fathom hating Guster is their music. It is calm, poppy and has moments of pure acoustic genius. After a long day of hanging out, listening to overly distorted guitars, heavy bass and rocking drums listening to Guster always seems like the right thing to do.
Guster is very much an acoustic band, their sound reminds me of that glasses wearing nerdy singer-songwriter who is always on the bill of your local café/club’s open mike night. An acoustic guitar is present in almost if not all of the tracks on Guster’s 4th full length, Keep it Together
, and most of the time is the main focus. On the occasional track such as super catchy, key single, Amsterdam, mildly overdriven guitars are brought in for a fuller, more rocking sound. Bass is present on most songs as is standard, but many of the tunes on Keep it Together wouldn’t be complete without auxiliary percussion. Tracks like the relaxing, catchy up-beat, Careful, feature quite a lot of hand percussion, from bongos to tambourines to god knows what else. Also present on Careful is a mellow EP (electric piano, fool) great guitar/bass playing and fantastic songwriting. The lead singer sings as great as the music is. His voice is catchy and nice, based on his voice alone I would be friends with him.
From songs like Careful and Amsterdam it is apparent that Guster doesn’t take their song writing lightly. They write good pop tunes, that’s for sure, but don’t take that the wrong way. Though their music isn’t complex they are really well written songs. Most songs have a standard Alt/Indie feel but have some reggae and world influences (The hand percussion on ‘Homecoming King’ for example) making this a perfect album to listen to whilst walking on the beach or something like that. Classic Rock also makes itself present in the whistling rocker, ‘Red Oyster Cult’. Guster even takes country influences and mixes them into their blend of Indie, Rock and Pop, ala Wilco. Jesus on the Radio features a nifty banjo riff and bangin’ harmonies. The lyrics feature the perfect mix of standard topics and off beat notations. Adjectives I could use to describe the lyrics on nearly every song on are: cleverly written and easy (and) to sing along to.
Guster has just the lineup to pull off their eclectic influences, two talented (but not show-offy) guitarists one of which doubles as a skilled vocalist, a superb percussion (I don’t mean just standard drums) player and a great multi-instrumentalist to clean things up. Without each member the band would be hindered, unlike say Hawthorne Heights where you could shoot two guitarists in the head and live shows would still sound the same. Keep it Together itself is a masterpiece, barely anything stops it from being a five, besides the occasional filler/sub par track. It mixes nearly every style of music capable of being played on an acoustic guitar with ease and pop-sensibility. Perfect for walking on the beach, singing along to in the shower or almost anything else, Guster’s Keep it Together is a superb album and I highly recommend it to any fans of lighter acoustic Indie Rock.