There are some albums that jump from your speakers from the very first second, to the very last. “Evermotion” by Boston’s alternative rock band, Guster, is not one of them. It is the kind of album that you desperately try to love, keep in the back of your closet, just in case your taste changes and somehow, like magic, you fall in love with it one day. While it is an incredibly well-produced and instrumentally sound, fusing psychedelic guitars and the synth of early 90’s New Wave, there is just something hollow about the entire album.
Every track sounds and feels like a musical landscape that has already been mapped. The riffs are predictable, volume swells fill nearly every long silence like some sick vestige of long-dead arena rock and the drums and bass plod over all too familiar patterns like farm equipment in field ruts.
The writing here is bogged down in both convention and pretension and fails to deliver a single addictive bass line or catchy hook, save the whistled melody in “Never Coming Down,” which is almost immediately ruined by its repetition on trumpet. The writing here is so flat as to be almost painful for long listening.
Perhaps the greatest flaw here is the sheer lack of direction. “Evermotion” frankly sounds like an extremely well produced jam session. All of the elements are there, but after you strip away slick production, wah and flanger, the writing just is not there. For an album that the band billed as revolutionizing their sound, Guster delivers little. The lyrics are so generic as to be the product of a random generator.
The chorus of “Expectation” begins “There are no arguments in heaven / No more uneasiness that lingers / Just people hanging ’round forever.’” John Lennon must be turning over in his grave.
Meanwhile, the real schlock begins in “Kid Dreams” with this painful spew of lyrics: “So there I was, fifteen / Stuck in high school / Was no prom king / Zoned out in a day dream, / About a pretty girl.” For a band that has been around since 1991, this is unacceptable. They have set the lyrical bar so low that not even early Blink-182 could stoop under it.
Despite these gripes, the instrumentation is solid, the combined vocals of Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller produce enjoyable harmonies, and while there are no outstanding tracks there is also nothing utterly objectionable.
“Evermotion” is an unfortunate case, in that it has all the makings of a decent album, but lacks anything that would elevate it from mediocrity. Perhaps that is Guster’s greatest sin. To create an album with such undeniable potential, only to watch it dissipate across 11 unmemorable tracks, each as devoid of interest and enjoyment than the last.
NOT RECOMMENDED: For everything this album does right, it’s sheer lack or creativity and direction makes it a lackluster listening experience.