"You gotta make your own salvation," declares young Chapel Hill songwriter Wylie Hunter during the opener, panning post-collegiate ennui up front. The manifesto "Get On Up!" steels listeners for the six songs that follow on The Cazadores' first EP. The five-piece melds a sense of early Springsteen-ian desperation and upbeat Guster-ian positivity. Anthemic choruses and expectant bridges abound, and warm singer-songwriter vocals develop into earnest, raspy shouts.
Indeed, Hunter balances highs and lows tonally and musically: "A Lot Like Summertime" features jittery electric guitar, a dancing bass line and Cuban-inspired percussion. But its chaser, "Jordan," is largely acoustic, building steadily until it sends the reflective Hunter into a fervor. Keyboards help these two songs—and the rest of the album, really—cohere, rounding the edges and adding depth. A soulful organ solo on the closer, "Never Come Too Soon," expresses the words Hunter can't find before circling to join him.
It's not that Hunter is without strong, or at least communicative, words. His direct songs focus on the future or women, sometimes both. In his world, dreams are worth fighting for. While he battles for his blond muse in "Jordan," he ultimately lets her go: "I don't want to shake you from your dream." On "Cemetery Lane," he sings, "I gotta know that when I go there'll be somebody left to say, 'He did it his way.'" Hunter can feel a bit unbridled during his debut, but his excitability and wanderlust are worth watching.