The expansion results in a sound that is not only fuller but also more conventional, with percussionist Brian Rosenworcel switching from bongos to a more standard drum kit. Where guitarists Ryan Miller and Adam Gardner used to trade lead vocal duties, Miller now sings lead on most of "Ganging." The group still relies on its rich harmonies, though, from the twangy "The Captain" to the bouncy choruses of "Manifest Destiny."
Despite all the changes, Guster's laid-back pop remains intact. The carefree "C'mon" conjures up images of a spontaneous road trip in a convertible, while the breezy "One Man Wrecking Machine" fuses high school nostalgia with daydreams of changing the past. The use of traditional percussion does give more driving energy to songs such as the passion-fueled "The New Underground," whose juxtaposition of pounding drums and harmony-drenched choruses deftly balances Guster's new direction with its well-honed strengths.
-- Catherine P. Lewis