“Evermotion” – by Guster
A close friend was recently riding in my Prius, listening to several tracks from Evermotion before he realized this CD was Guster – his response was essentially wow, when did they decide to become so slow and sad? This three-week old album has a promising 5-star rating on Amazon.com, but I suspect that is because there are only ten reviews by over-enthused fans at this point. I had to stop myself from reading too much on Amazon that could potentially cloud my judgment: I want to remain clear in my review that I think this is the most disappointing album I have reviewed to date for RMC.
Ironically, I think of Guster as being actually similar to my beloved Better Than Ezra – a band that became very popular in the 90s, had some biggish hits, but were really just managing to survive right on the edge. They accomplished this by putting out an album every now and then, but mostly by performing extensive tours for very loyal fans. Guster seems to be the expert at crafting singable songs with lots of amazing drums (they perform with a complete set of bongos) and upbeat guitars that make you feel something. But not here!
The first track (“Long Night”) was promising and pleasant, but my interest did not hold very long. Since I LOVED Keep it Together from 2003 I was expecting something similar that would make an impression and lock the songs forever into my heart. But by the third song I was wondering what had happened to make an otherwise solid band release something so unexciting and mediocre. I remembered that on older Guster albums, a second singer is often featured – I noticed this “other” guy wasn’t taking the lead on any of the new songs so I scoured the web to see if he had left the group. But no, he’s still there. SO why does this album leave so much to be desired?
There are some interesting sound themes in this record – a new-wave usage of synth sounds, and an over-echoey effect on the vocals that to me just sounds like crummy mixing. We have the tools in 2015 to make songs sound better, so the rough edges just annoy me here. Track #6 is probably my least favorite of all. Called “Expectation”, this song sounds like a long and undefined thought – a Beatles-esque slow stream of consciousness carried on a weak melody with some synth again in the background.
While previewing tracks on Google Play, I saw one review that stated this had “more of the feel of their older albums” so maybe I am the one that doesn’t fully understand Guster, and what they are all about. My only exposure to them has been the aforementioned Keep It Together album (which I think is GREAT), a live show in 2010, and occasionally hearing “Barrel of a Gun” and “Fa Fa” on the radio. I thought I liked Guster, but I am not enough of a fangirl to have their whole discography committed to memory, in order to compare and contrast this release with their early work in the hopes of finding some saving grace. I regret to inform you that I’m assigning this album a rating of “D” for Disappointing. Probably just a 5 or 6 out of 10. Blech.
Link to Google Play to preview tracks:
Link to Amazon for purchase details: