Sire Records, 1997

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Alternative music is a genre that, occasionally, still has flashes of brilliance come out of its ranks. Too often I hear music that is classified as "alternative" that is nearly unlistenable, but then these occasional moments of greatness restore my hope in the genre.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Guster is a three-piece band that could eventually be a group that restores my faith. But the music on their latest release Goldfly is so sleepily performed that it almost begs for the crunch of electric guitars.

The band - guitarist/vocalist Adam Gardner, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Miller and percussionist/vocalist Brian Rosenworcel - has a very gentle sound to its music, almost hypnotic in a way. While they do have a few friends fill in the other instruments, they're almost not needed in the big picture.

Tracks like "Great Escape," "Airport Song" and "Medicine" are interesting twists on the alternative rock/pop genre. But the weakness in these tracks is that they all err on the side of gentleness. I'm all for mood music, but I would have liked to hear a little musical conflict somewhere along the line on Goldfly - you know, something to jar me out of complacency.

Unfortunately, the gentle aspect of this album makes it one you could almost sleep to. Tracks like "Grin" and "Bury Me" flow together almost too smoothly. Had a little more variety been tossed into the mix - an electric guitar here, more intense (meaning, louder) vocals there - then Goldfly would have been an easier album to get through. If you're not paying attention, you might miss the fact there's a bonus eleventh song on the disc.

All this aside, Guster does have what it takes to shake the genre of alternative out of its doldrums - provided that Guster can remove the albatross from around their own necks. Goldfly is a decent enough effort, but it's too easy to get sucked into the melancholic atmosphere and go drifting off with the songs. Music is meant to move the listener, but it should include some level of challenge to it, and Guster doesn't seem to be ready to challenge their listeners just yet.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.