Guster, Easy Wonderful (Universal Republic Records, 2010)

Guster have spent over a decade making alternative rock with a sunny pop sensibility.  When I reviewed their previous CD Ganging Up on the Sun, I noted that their music was consistently good, even if the lack of an obvious standout song hurt their commercial prospects somewhat.  Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel, and Joe Pisapia (who's since been replaced by Luke Reynolds) returned in 2010 with their sixth studio album, called Easy Wonderful.  The results are, for the most part, more of the same.

As with Ganging Up on the Sun, there are plenty of songs on Easy Wonderful that are at least decent.  "Do You Love Me" is the kind of love song that could get lots of summer airplay, assuming one or two DJs found it in the first place.  "This Could All Be Yours" is a fun upbeat rocker as well, and "Bad Bad World" is an easy song to sing along with.  My favorite song is "What You Call Love," a rare breakup song that manages to be fun and catchy while still making its point.

Unfortunately, the album derails a bit when religion is invoked.  "Stay with Me Jesus" is either a painfully naive song of gratitude for being protected when other people weren't, or a failed attempt at irony.  The title line of "That's No Way to Get to Heaven" just doesn't fit with the rest of the song, and the meaning of the chorus of "Jesus and Mary" remains confounding after multiple listens.

As a result, Easy Wonderful is not quite up to the same standard of consistency that Guster have set for themselves in the past.  Having said that, there's still a sufficient amount of quality on the album to justify the purchase.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

The video for "Do You Love Me"

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