on 16 November 2006
"Ganging Up On The Sun" is the sound of a band well within its stride - a band who has progressed and delivered a better album each time around. This is not a knock on their previous body of work - anyone who has listened to their previous albums know that Guster is a band that delivers a wonderfully rich yet somehow organic sound. This is the latest and greatest from a band that is truly at the forefront of current American rock.
For the uninitiated, Guster was a three piece (Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, and Brian Rosenworcel) who met at University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. They've since added a fourth member, Joe Pisapia. Each member is a multi-instrumentalist - and the band mixes the traditional rock instruments at times with horns, tribal rhythm instruments, and banjo. Make no mistake - this is ACCESSIBLE music - music that incorporates a wealth of variety to enhance the greater whole, not overpower it and alienate. And, of course, Guster's vocal harmonies are among the best of bands today. Miller handles the majority of lead vocals, but Gardner is a quite capable vocalist as a lead, perhaps underused.
Ganging Up On The Sun includes songs that are introspective; songs to be listened to and enjoyed alone or with a loved one - other songs are party songs, yet somehow more cerebral than all of that. That's the strength of Guster - the music is not simple, but you enjoy it FOR that, instead of in spite of it. The vocals sound effortless on this record - as if they don't have to try to make a perfect recording.
"Lightning Rod" includes some of the harmony that Guster does so well - a soft guitar plucking, nice atmospheric background, and Miller's soft vocal. Guster showing off its softer and sensitive side. "Ruby Falls" does it even better.
"Satellite" starts off with an acoustic strumming reminiscent of "My Sweet Lord", but continues with a bouncy beat. This is a single with all the Guster elements at the fore - great songwriting! "One Man Wrecking Machine" continues this to great success, as does "C'Mon".
"Manifest Destiny" features the 'other side' of the Guster sound - a plucky, upbeat sound - which is brought to the max in "The Captain" (with banjo in the mix!)
"The New Underground" shows the flexibility of the band even more - the sound is fuller, lower, and a tad darker - with guitar stabs reminiscent of Rush's Grace Under Pressure record.
"Dear Valentine" is one of the few songs with Gardner as the lead - which makes the song worthwhile for that alone - he brings something different to the Guster sound - but it's still unmistakably Guster. And great horn work in the mix.
All in all, this is a WONDERFUL album that must be heard to appreciate. Listen to it several times and you will fall in love with it.
If you love this record - look at "Keep It Together" and "Lost and Gone Forever" - their most recent two albums prior - as they're bound to capture you as well.
BUY THIS ALBUM!