Four years have passed since Guster released its last album. In that time, not only did three of the members become fathers, but they also produced a seemingly effortless new album. “Easy Wonderful” is full of solid pop songs about love, happiness and surprisingly — Jesus.
The opening track is strong and promising. This song, “Architects and Engineers,” begins with powerful, punchy acoustic guitar melodies and strong drums, followed shortly by the distinct voice of lead singer Ryan Miller. His clear but pleasantly buzzy voice is backed by another layer of vocals. The track is clearly Guster — but a more developed and mature version.
“Do You Love Me” continues the classic Guster feel of the album. Miller’s vocals are the star of the track, pulling the listener into his hypnotic, tumbling melody and steady beat. Though it may seem like a fun, feel-good jam, the lyrics are pensive. The words perfectly illustrate the feeling of a person looking back on his or her life and wondering if it is everything they once hoped for.
The song “Stay With Me Jesus” has some questionably cheesy lyrics on first listen, but the use of the religious figure in the song seems to be more on the ironic side.
The rest of the album continues on its poppy way, with little accents and musical surprises added in every once in a while. For example, “This is How It Feels To Have A Broken Heart” prominently features a harmonica, and the band forgoes its traditional acoustic guitar for the ukulele in “What You Call Love,” a charming, energetic song.
Despite the four-year wait, Guster deserves credit for producing a solid album. Despite a few duds, “Easy Wonderful” is true to its title — the breezy, seemingly effortless compilation will entice new listeners while feeling familiar yet refreshing to old fans.