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Blows Against the Empire State

Guster - Ganging Up on the Sun
(Reprise)
4.25 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 5, 2006
Guster

Review by Brad Walseth

An utter delight from opening haunter "Lightning Rod" through to the funereal organ plea for sanity in an insane world - "Hang On," Guster shows evidence of a new found maturity while still (thankfully) wanting to get into the homecoming queen's pants on their latest release - "Ganging Up on the Sun." Charting that nebulous region between adolescent angst and adult ennui, the songs are Guster's strongest to date and reflect that moment in time when your life hangs in the balance between soaring dreams and possibilities and crushing reality.

Lyrically strong, several songs mention being a soldier (whether serving militarily, economically or socially) and carrying on doing your duty. Several carry a theme of home - a return to, a memory of (in both joy and pain), a want to escape, an understanding of the youthful need to rebel, while keeping a wary eye on the beginning of the end of freedom and the coming of responsibilities - brought forth in the clenched iron fist of the empire state, with only a dreamy, empty promise of the afterlife as reward. But this isn't to say the album is a downer, as the boys bring forth their usual beauteous melodies and harmonies, augmented by wonderful instrumentation including banjos, keyboards and horns. First single "One Man Wrecking Machine" is fantastic fun, "C'mon," a clarion call to arms, while sensitive mood pieces like "The Captain" (everyone has one) and " Ruby Falls " sparkle in the depths. And "Satellite" is simply pop perfection.

Like that time when as a senior in college you drove up to the point and laid back with the top down to watch the clouds - before you took that job as a stockbroker or a stockboy at the local A&P., married, had kids and settled down into what society wants you to be - Guster gives you back that fragment of your life as a gift in this collection of songs sealed in sunlit amber.

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