It’s summer, the sun is starting to peek out through the clouds, and therefore it must be time for an influx of summer pop happiness of the kind Guster can always be trusted to deliver. After all, by the time a band churn out their fifth studio album, you can usually be pretty confident about what you’re getting.
Guster are never going to set the world of indie music alight, but sometimes a nice warm breeze is far more preferable. Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller’s gentle vocals and the rest of the band’s delicate harmonies may be reminiscent of an American Travis (especially on Manifest Destiny) but there are many people happy to admit that can be a very good thing.
The former Boston University students are everything you might expect of a band formed in such an institution: accomplished, slick and ultimately conservative, turning out the kind of indie ballads that you didn’t hate half as much before Coldplay and Keane came along. Conformists as well as skinny-jeaned, wonky-fringed rebels deserve music too, you know, and songs such as opening track Lightning Rod should make you want to join them.
Guster’s music may be more likely to fade into the background of films you’ve never heard of and soundtrack US weather channels, but at least you’ll never hear them banging on about their eco warriorship half as much as some rock gods, which is probably why they attract such a loyal and intimate fan base: they’re a band you could bring home to your mother and use for background music over dinner while you’re at it.
Slowie Empire State, which they describe as their “quietest song” would be particularly good for sticking on in the corner at such a moment. With its finger-plucked chords and hippie tendencies, you can just imagine the joss sticks wafting their smoke around in the background.
They like to align themselves with campus rebels of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and while they’re the gentlest of hippies, with only slightly unruly hair, their guitar harmonies do often recall the summer of Love – particularly on Satellite, The Captain and the very ’60s-named The Beginning Of The End.
“I never want to be preachy”, says vocalist/guitarist Ryan Miller, and thank god for that. It really would be a shame to ruin such an inoffensive pop parcel with any of that nasty politics rubbish. So lie back and enjoy them as the summer unfolds.