Album review: The Cars, Move Like This

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Album Reviews

I grew up listening to the Cars. Their lifespan as a band (1978-1987) coincided with my formative years, the years I really got into music. Their feel-good tunes were always on the radio, songs such as “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Good Times Roll,” “Let’s Go,” “You Might Think” and “Drive.” The band had a gift for coming up with hooks, as their songs could get permanently lodged into your brain.
They quietly broke up in early 1988, following the only lackluster album in their canon, Door to Door. For years, lead singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek insisted the band would never record again, a thought further advanced when fellow vocalist and bassist Benjamin Orr died of cancer in 2000. A few of the non-singing members of the band reunited with producer Todd Rundgren to form the New Cars in the middle part of the last decade, and although their shows were a success, a true reunion was impossible without chief songwriter Ocasek.
Which makes the recent release Move Like This a pleasant surprise indeed. Ocasek was working on a solo album when he got the notion to get the band back together, and at the risk of sounding too cliche, it seems as if they never left.
On Move Like This, you are transported into the mid 80s again, as the band is in peak form. Ocasek sounds just as he did on those classic hits, his voice hasn’t aged a bit. The album revs up (pardon the pun) with a strong opener, the synth-fueled “Blue Tip” and never lets up momentum in a brisk 10-track affair, just like the old days.
The album manages to sound fresh despite its familiar feel, as the band doesn’t so much recycle the old hits as use new paints from its already tried and true template. The ballad “Soon” sounds like a distant cousin to “Drive” without lifting any melodies from that track. “Sad Song” belies its title with its bouncy synths and upbeat rhythm. “Hits Me” closes the album in fine fashion, leaving you wanting more.
There’s not a weak track on this album, and any fan of the band’s 70s and 80s work will love this. Even if you’re not acquainted with the band’s back catalog, you’ll enjoy this if you like well-executed power-pop. Glad the Cars are ruling the road again.

Sod review: ****

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