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Cavo: Bright Nights Dark Days

CD Review

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For some reason, St. Louis, Mo., seems an unlikely place for a successful arena rock band to have been conceived. But after nearly a decade together, Cavo has prevailed, finally releasing their first major-label album, Bright Nights Dark Days (Reprise Records). Despite the predominance of heavy rhythms and high-octane instrumentals common to alternative grunge-style rock, the lyrics reveal surprising vulnerability. The net effect captivates--just as passing drivers are transfixed by freshly mangled vehicles at an accident scene, listeners will cling to the tormented lines as intently as they are delivered.

Cavo definitely has a special knack for power ballads, but these are not the slow-dance rock songs of the '80s. Instead, they are the feisty younger siblings, more contemporary and more honest than their earlier counterparts. Simultaneously therapeutic and addictive, the temptation to replay "Crash" over and over again is hard to resist. With the confident vocals of frontman Casey Walker assuring, "I'll be here the next time that you crash / I'm right here in front of you ... I'll save you when you crash," personal anguish is more easily indulged.

Walker, who stands up to the tightly knit rhythms of Brian Smith on bass and Chad LaRoy on drums, offers a lyrical embrace that's almost palpable. Along with guitarist Chris Hobbs, these musicians produce a gently aggressive sound that both comforts and incites.