Guster

Evermotion

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The seventh studio long-player from the affable, East Coast alt-rock veterans, Evermotion retains the soaring melodicism and on-the-nose (in a good way) pop architecture of Guster's earlier work, but the band has come a long way from its college rock-ready acoustic guitar- and hand percussion-led beginnings. Bolstered by layers of sequencers, breezy synth pads, and cavernous harmonies, the 11-track set, which was produced by musical polymath Richard Swift (the Shins, Damien Jurado, Foxygen), goes out of its way to separate itself, at least sonically, from prior outings, but Guster's penchant for blending stadium-ready Brit-pop grandeur with proletarian American trad rock guitar noodling ultimately wins out -- much like the Shins' Port of Morrow, which adopted a similar electro-pop sheen, it's comfort food disguised as haute cuisine; it also feels a little late to the party. That said, the band is too talented a pop-making machine to unleash a complete dud, and standout cuts like the propulsive first single "Simple Machine," the breezy, north country rambler "Never Coming Down," and the sumptuous opener "Long Night" -- the latter of which skillfully pairs the infectious, circular gait of the Beta Band's "Dry the Rain" with the icy expansiveness of Coldplay's "Clocks" -- engage on nearly every level. The remaining tracks are nowhere near unlistenable, they're just largely ephemeral. Kudos to the group for deciding to do a little remodeling, but it might behoove them to keep the original floor plans, as the current arrangement feels a little out of character.

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