Sure, they lay their dark vocals over sugary pop music, but Guster's true appeal lies in their percussionist, Brian "Thundergod" Rosenworcel. His "thunderkit" (a bongo set) is the highlight of any Guster show or album, so I began to worry when Guster's fourth album, Keep It Together, kicks off with Rosenworcel playing a traditional drumkit.
Surprisingly, Rosenworcel sticks with the traditional set-up for most of the album, and the results are strong for the most part. For a band looking to progress, Guster chose the odd route of becoming more traditional in order to do so. Rosenworcel's energy behind the bongos is missed, but he proves to be more than capable with drumsticks.
With the lighter percussion, Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller get to show off their talents on both the guitar and the mic. And while the songs lack the instant accessibility of their previous effort, Lost & Gone Forever, the album has only a few missteps. "Come Downstairs and Say Hello," as well as "Long Way Down," drag down the album's final moments, but the band closes strong with their Ben Kweller collaboration, "I Hope Tomorrow Is Like Today."
Despite changing their signature sound, Guster still manages to produce an enjoyable album, hinting at a future that involves even more change. And Keep It Together is proof that change isn't bad at all.