Itís possible for me to name all of the bands that actually make me happy to listen to on one hand. Foregoing the other four, letís focus on the one group who is always represented by my first finger: Guster. Theyíre just that type of band; the type that truly is enjoyable to listen to. I canít help but crack a smile whenever I hear a Guster song. Charisma. Thatís what Guster has. The type of charisma that develops into an appealing charm. Itís rare to come across a band with this much character, this much personality. There is perhaps no greater example of Gusterís unique brand of quirky allure than the bandís second studio album, 1998ís Goldfly
was basically Gusterís way of raising simple indie pop to an art form. Youíd be hard pressed to find an album as quaintly experimental as this. Goldfly
kept Guster in a state of progression, without alienating any particulars of the bandís past blueprints of success. You see, thatís the beautiful thing about Guster: they manage to significantly change their musical approach from album to album with oftentimes fascinating results. Even within their albums the manage to diversify themselves, allowing for a one-of-a-kind listening experience.
Take ďAirport Song" for example. What begins as a subtle little melody slowly develops into a fully immersive experience, complete with ping-pong outro. It is the deftly placed intricacies that Guster places into Goldfly
ís songs that impress more than anything. This, of course, is bolstered by the bandís phenomenal songwriting talent. Every song to be found on this album has a certain sense of balance between raw enthusiasm and disciplined serenity. Lyrically, Goldfly
leaves little be desired. The wordplay overflows with songs that seem to convey every spectrum of the human emotional palette. They do this, however, without losing Gusterís distinctively laidback feel. Personally, I have an affinity for the lyrics to be found in ďRocket Ship" whose first verses read:
ďThey'll find it on the stairs
Politely placed it there/
Been so unkind without a hint
A warning sign for them
Read my apology
Their hope of disbelief
But no denial changes things
No remedy ahead
I am not to be martyred
I am not to be worshipped
Did it not to be strong, strong, strong
I implicate no others in this crimeÖ"
The musicianship on Goldfly
, however, lapses even the wonderful lyrics in terms of sheer quality. Guster employ a curious mix of different instruments on their albums; the most prominent of these on Goldfly
being the bongos; to a slightly lesser extent, violin. Said bongos are played by Brian Rosenworcel, who, for all itís worth, is consistently the most impressive member of Guster from a musical standpoint. Affectionately dubbed ďThe Thundergod," Rosenworcel is a multi-instrumental percussionist. To call him merely a drummer would be an insult; the man is a master of his craft. Rosenworcelís employment of everything from a standard drum kit (usually eschewing drum sticks in favor of his bare hands), to djembes, to tambourines, and the aforementioned bongos on Goldfly
. His infectiously groovy beats add to the general fever-dream feel of most of the albumís songs. One of the greatest examples of Rosenworcelís seemingly boundless is his work on ďThe Great Escape." In short, Guster wouldnít be Guster and Goldfly
wouldnít be Goldfly
without the steady hands of ďThe Thundergod." As splendid as Rosenworcelís efforts on Goldfly
are, Gusterís other members also perform extremely well. The dual vocal work of guitarists Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner is quite commendable. So to, is the duos guitar playing; a sonically fascinating use of acoustic instruments. Miller and Gardner seem to constantly seem bounce their texture-laden riffs off of one another, as if enticing the other to respond with something even greater. More often than not, their intent is fully realized.
features an eclectically pleasing mixture of brilliant music and deep lyrics, that makes for some of the most well-constructed songs that Iíve ever heard. I canít imagine finding anything wrong with this album. Goldfly
is one of Gusterís finest moments, as well as being a fine moment for music in general. I canít force you, dear reader, to listen to anything, no matter how highly I recommend it. Still, if I ever become musical dictator of the world, you can safely bet that this would be required (read: forced) listening. So hurry out to pick this one up, or else Iím going to start plotting my conquer of the planet Earth.