Signing to a major-label doesn't really change Guster's outlook for their third album, Lost & Gone Forever. However, the switch to the big leagues has given the band the opportunity to hire a heavy-hitter producer, Steve Lillywhite, who performs a similar function here that he did with Dave Matthews. Lillywhite doesn't attempt to change Guster's jovial folk-pop, but he helps them focus and gives them a clear, vibrant sonic palette that makes Lost & Gone Forever sound inviting and intimate. That's a blessing, since it highlights their effortless melodic gifts, warm harmonies, and quirky arrangements. And, depending on your view, it may also be a bit of a curse since it highlights the group's cutesy, jokey side, which can be a little irritating. Still, Lost & Gone Forever is not only Guster's best-sounding record, it's among their most consistent, filled with some of their strongest, catchiest tunes. In other words, it's exactly what their major-label debut should have been. -AMG
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