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Judy G.

CD of The Week

Week of 6/03/24

    Guster - Ooh La La (Ocho Mule)

    The gentlemen of Guster have been making their signature brand of melodic, winning indie rock for over three decades now. Their ninth album, Ooh La La, was written against the backdrop of the last four years and find the band wrestling with a mix of emotions, trying to hang on to hope during dark times. It’s been over five years since Look Alive and the group has gone through a lot, with Ooh La La the end result.

    Ooh La La kicks off with the midtempo shuffle of “This Heart is Occupied,” followed by the nostalgia of the grooving “When We Were Stars.” Frontman Ryan Miller looks back on better times that seem to have turned bitter in the present.

    “All Day” is another breezy shuffle couched in twinkling keyboards built around the always-reliable percussion of Brian Rosenworcel. Lead single “Keep Going” is a mantra in the darkest pandemic times, as Miller repeats “It’s OK, I’m alright” and pleads to “keep going to the light.” The eerie “Witness Tree” also stands out as the most upbeat moment on the record, with big horns and a bed of organs bolstering the tune. Another standout is the acoustic, sweet and simple “Black Balloon” (not a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls or The Kills). “The Elevator” is a shuffling goodbye that may be happening at a moment of death. Ooh La La wraps with the strumming, gentle closer “Maybe We’re Alright,” a meditation on aging.

    All the sonic elements of Guster are still there on Ooh La LA, just the energy and vibe turned back a notch without as many of their biggest or brightest hooks. It’s always comforting to hear Ryan’s voice, an old familiar friendly sound no matter the times. The lovely, lush Ooh La La may be their mellowest record but it does grow on you over time and its highlights will certainly come alive in the band’s always-entertaining live show.
    Review by Joey O.

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