For all those die-hard Guster fans out there, your wait is finally over. The American Alternative Rock band have finally released their eighth studio album ‘Look Alive’, four years after ‘Evermotion’. The boys are back in the driving seat, and holy c**p it’s a nice car.
Now, it seems to me that when it comes to title tracks, many artists have forgotten their way. There was a time when title tracks were the highlight of a record, but many are now mediocre at best. Guster have bucked the trend, as the title track for this record is nothing short of glorious. It is bouncy and fragmentary with smoothly delightful vocals cutting through the low-key production, calmly opening the record whilst revelling in its own meanderings. It ticks all the boxes for being both a single and a title track, and is a definite crowd-pleaser.
There’s something quaint about ‘Don’t Go’ which makes it powerful and endearing. Maybe it’s the twinkly Asian music esque vibes pulsing through the song. Or perhaps the lyrics that are full to bursting with experience. Whatever it is, it elevates the song from being an average tune to becoming classy and informed.
‘Hello Mister Sun’ marks the point where the album gets a bit odd. The song is cute and jazzy, paying homage to that great ball of fire in the sky that’s “not just a blob”. ELO’s absolute banger ‘Mr Blue Sky’ was an obvious influence here for both the lyrical content and production. It’s fun, catchy and gives the album an unexpected twist. Rumour has it that if you play both songs at the same time, summer will appear*.
(*Not true but worth a shot, right?).
The storytelling skills the Guster boys have comes flooding through in ‘Overexcited’, a song that almost becomes a soap opera. There’s a definite hint of Pulp in there too, which makes the track both mesmerising and nostalgic. With its quirky synth melodies and captivating lyrics, this song would make a cracking single.
Things take a sudden eerie turn with ‘Mind Kontrol‘, a dystopian and unnerving track that will haunt you for a while after listening to it. The repetition starts to sound like chants whilst the rest of the lyrics conjure images of a George Orwell setting until you realise how accurate they are to the modern world. The shouts of “I’m free” are distorted in such a way that they sound more like yelps, which just makes the whole thing a bit creepier. It’s a fantastically uncanny commentary all wrapped up in a disturbing production.
‘Look Alive’ was certainly worth the wait. The record has kicked off 2019’s music with a definite bang, giving us high hopes for what’s to come from both Guster and the industry in general.