Guster

Ganging Up on the Sun (Reprise)

ACL Music Fest Reviews

Guster

Ganging Up on the Sun (Reprise)

Though it runs a bit long on overdrawn atmospherics rather than song-wise substance, Guster's fifth album still packs a respectable quantity of hum-worthy capture points into its 12 songs. The Massachusetts-bred trio recently became a quartet with the addition of Nashville instrumental e-man Joe Pisapia, and his presence goes a long way toward imbuing their charm with added focus and heft. Ganging Up on the Sun starts tastefully-if-unevenly with "Lightning Rod," a muted, folk-leaning war metaphor better suited toward an album's midsection. The energy picks up with the lively Ben Folds piano pop of "Manifest Destiny" and "One Man Wrecking Machine," a wistful breath of adolescent nostalgia that just might be the Nixon babies' version of Springsteen's "Glory Days." "Ruby Falls" is a grandiose, seven-minute epic with well-measured doses of psychedelic angst and a trumpet solo you don't see coming. "C'mon" follows up nicely with a soul-tinged take on the easygoing sound of Fleetwood Mac's California. "Empire State" and "Dear Valentine" cycle through pleasant enough themes without fully flowering, but "The Beginning of the End" ends the lull with an incendiary guitar fusillade straight out of 1969. Guster's chameleonlike ability to fall in line behind a diverse batch of songs is ultimately their greatest asset. (Friday, 2:30pm, AMD stage)

**.5

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