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Guster's 'Look Alive' Slithers With Colorful, Sinewy Synths

Guster has announced its new albumLook Alive -- out Jan. 18, 2019 — on Nettwerk/Ocho Mule. The nine-song collection is the band's first new album in four years – their eighth overall since releasing its debut album in 1995. The album was produced by Leo Abrahams and recorded in a vintage keyboard museum in Calgary AB, with additional sessions with John Congleton and Collin DuPuis.

In an e-mail about the title song, which evolved significantly from demo to final song, Brian Rosenworcel says:

"Look Alive" was written in Maine, in a cold room above a car dealership. It was mainly a knock-out melody, with a few key lyrics in place. There was a Motown feel that we knew we wanted to lose, as this one felt like the kind of pop song that could transcend time. Leo gravitated strongly to the demo of the song, but became the force for reinvention. It's his strongest personal imprint of any of the productions, literally hovering for four minutes as a sonic collage of granular guitar bits, digital percussion, and spinning snaps. The bridge became the most devastating political lyric:

"The hero enters the frame / He's memorized his lines... And hollow words from the front of the stage echo for miles and miles..."

We wrote the bridge in the studio. Pulling away the drums and much of the production on the bridge helped focus the song toward it. We ended up having a bit of a fight about this song in the studio once we got to Montreal in regard to which of the collage bits stayed and which got replaced. Everyone cared a lot about this song. In the end, its overproduction became its art. You never know when you make an album which tracks you're going to tire of sooner than others, but this one felt worth of being our title track. It's a holder-upper.

Over the course of their eight albums, Guster has always evolved musically. "Look Alive" continues that pattern. "Never repeat ourselves," writes Rosenworcel. "Look Alive" is the third song the band has released from the forthcoming album, following the synth-heavy, Depeche Mode-esque "Hard Times," and the more upbeat "Don't Go." "Look Alive" falls in between the middle of these two songs. It's moody and warm, and slithers with colorful, sinewy synths. The multi-tracked vocals hover above a subtle groove, bringing to mind Peter Gabriel's impressionistic "White Shadow." It's one of Guster's most musically sparkling pop songs.

Guster starts aU.S. touron Nov. 1.

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Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: and WXPN's .