Cavo | Bridges (PledgeMusic)

The album is filled with clever arrangements and tricked-out dynamics that continue to reveal themselves, even after repeated listening.

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You have to hand it to the guys in Cavo. Their follow-up to 2012’s Thick as Thieves could have easily been a half-hearted, phoned-in affair, filled with carbon-copy recollections of past radio staples “Champagne” and “Celebrity.” Why would St. Louis’s favorite post-grunge, modern-rock band be expected to do anything but that?

In fact, on new album Bridges, the band seems dedicated to tying its past to the stake of its career and gleefully lighting a match. The first track, “Nights”—heralded by a band member rightly exclaiming, “This song is cool”—includes an arrangement driving its verses straight into a chorus that recalls the greatness of Some Cities–era Doves. “Nights” also establishes the tone for the rest of the album, filled with clever arrangements and tricked-out dynamics that continue to reveal themselves, even after repeated listening.

The real surprises begin with “Just Like We Want It,” which finds the band throwing down a classic-rock stomp with one foot set confidently on the dancefloor. If this was the typical major-label, over-glossed track, the band’s individual contributions would have been drowned out by a chorus so catchy, you may need to hire an exorcist to get it removed from your skull. It’s not, though, and at least some of the credit has to land at the feet of Blue October’s Matt Noveskey, who has succeeded in helping the band create the most delightfully multifaceted album they’ve ever done.

If there were any justice in the world, albeit a world in which people actually demanded good music on the radio, “Stay” would certainly be an every-hour-on-the-hour experience. The sparse arrangement reveals the diligently reigned-in performances, all geared toward supporting vocalist Casey Walker’s emotional storytelling. Walker’s voice has always been the group’s identifying factor, but the grit and range he displays here is worth the price of admission alone.

“She Don’t Care” announces itself with help from Brian Smith’s growling bass, tearing up the groove like Godzilla trouncing the crowded streets of Tokyo. Not content to be buried in the mix, Smith is the band’s secret weapon, elevating every track, and his work with drummer Andy Herrin here is sublime.

The surprising and heartfelt “On Your Own” recasts the Black Sabbath classic “Changes” into a touching ode to loneliness and redemption, spiked with guitarist Chris Hobbs’ bittersweet and bluesy guitar work. Hobbs has long been Cavo’s musical center, and he commands the tracks on Bridges with authority, his melodic playing always offering the perfect statement or harmonic counterpoint throughout.

On “Get Away,” the band meshes shouted gang vocals and a syncopated hip-hop beat with Royal Blood–worthy riffing in a bid for stadium anthem of the year. With “Weather Rolls,” they touch base with their own past, simultaneously serving a reminder they can still pull off a rollercoaster rock song with plenty in the tank to burn.

Shouldn’t that be the point, though? Cavo knows good and well there’s no point in making a new album this long into their career if the well’s run dry and they’ve got nothing left to say. Luckily for us, they still have plenty they want to talk about. | Jim Ousley

For more information, go to www.cavomusic.com.

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