While Bridge never fully interested me--and that could definitely be, at least partially, attributed to about half the songs having being released as Lagwagon songs prior--Joey Cape’s second foray into a full-length solo album is a huge step up in my eyes.
The album opens up with “Going for the Bronze,” a fairly poppy number--especially considering that it is an acoustic song about essentially never being the best. It is a strong start to the album. Following is possibly my favorite song of the album, “Okay," which Cape wrote for his friend, Matt Davis. It is a very quiet, very sad song with lines like “Listen man, I’m talking to myself / As crazy as it sounds, I think it helps / I don’t believe in an afterlife at all / I have no faith the soul will carry on / You’re gone” and the following chorus that contains “I’m alright / I’m okay” sounds so depressingly half-hearted--in the very best way, of course.
“Montreal” has a similar downer sound to “Okay” and I love every second of it. With possibly my favorite lines of the album, “Never trust a hotel clock / Share your truth with those you love / But not so much / ‘Cause nothing lasts,” the song hits right where it hurts. Bonus points for the song’s French guest vocals by Sainte Catherines/Yesterday’s Ring member, Hugo Mudie. Just as I’ve never made it to Montreal, I’ve also never picked up the habit of smoking, but Cape’s song about continuously attempting to give up smoking, “Drag”, is still entirely relatable. In the broader scheme, the song is just a song about nasty habits that you can never manage to quite put in your past. “The Greatest Generation” is a little overly specific for my tastes. As Cape sings about how “No one is great in [his] generation,” his vocals come off more disdainful than angry or sad. Still, for the lowlight of the album, it is still entirely listenable and enjoyable.
“No Mirror” a slightly speedy, poppy song about people being judgmental without taking a look at their self. Despite the song becoming almost too cynical, the end of the song takes an upbeat turn, making the listener almost forget about how shitty most people happen to be. The following track, “I’m Not Gonna Save You,” originally appeared on Cape’s Who Wants to Get Down? split seven-inch with Jon Snodgrass. While definitely a downer and not quite as musically interesting as many of the other songs on the album, it is sung with such perfect emotions for the subject matter that any qualms related to instrumentation are moot. Following suit is “A Song for the Missing.” A song about fading memories, it stays pretty low key while getting its point across.
The CD version contains the wonderful Afterburner song “Death Benefits,” which contains in the vein of very depressing, but beautiful songs. Cape sings lines like “People change / Save for their names / But here’s to a friend I once knew,” which is instantly followed by some great whistling. The entire song is backed by keys and quite a few other rhythmic instruments. And the following “bonus track” is a phone call with Fat Mike in which Fat Mike is invited to play on the album and Fat Mike says, “The acoustic one that I’m not putting out? I’m not feeling too good.” While I’m fairly certain it is a joke--either that or Fat Mike is the worst liar ever--it is a very strange way to end the album.
As I mentioned in the introduction to this review, I wasn’t blown about Cape’s Bridge, but this album has all the right emotions and the songs have enough depth to their structure to keep the listener interested. And, as long as you haven’t been listening to Joey Cape’s band Bad Loud you won’t be hearing a bunch of songs you already heard electric versions of.