Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review - The Cars - Move Like This

I’m not sure why I never bought a proper album by The Cars during the height of their popularity. Being a fledgling keyboardists I was well aware of their sound and liked what I heard, but probably due to my being immersed in metal the band never coaxed any of my cash into their coffers. Years later I purchased a two CD “best of” set and found myself enjoying even the songs that weren’t radio standards. And yet none of their actual albums made it onto my overburdened CD shelves. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma. After hearing all the hype that The Cars were reforming (sans bassist/vocalist Ben Orr who was absent due his not being in any condition to sing or play bass due to passing away in 2000) and that the new album, Move Like This, was as good as their earlier albums I decided that I’d succumb to said hype and break out the wallet. It was time to break the cycle. Now that I’ve listened to the album nearly a dozen times I can honestly say that this is indistinguishably The Cars. The sound is pure and genuine, picking right up where they left off. To their credit, they don’t sound like an imitation of themselves, an all-too-common happenstance that occurs when older bands reform after decades apart. Nope, this is the real deal. The keyboards are authentic Cars-type sounds, the guitars sound just right and Ocasek’s voice shows little signs of aging. They even managed to update their sound a bit without losing that glorious AM-friendly tone of yesteryear. But otherwise, how is it? Fortunately I’m not on the dole of some record company so I’m going to give it to you straight. Move Like This is a good album but it’s no classic. Only The Cars could have made this album but it’s lacking something. The energy is impressively there but there’s no hunger. Sadly there is little vocal variety with the passing of Orr nor are there many of the rich background harmonies many have come to love from this band’s earlier albums. Also missing are those instantly memorable melodic hooks. As often as I’ve listened to Move Like This I can’t really remember any of the melodies, vocal, keyboard or otherwise. The ten songs on the album are of obvious quality but they just don’t stick in your head. From a band that crafted such candy coated hits as “Just What I Needed”, “Magic” and “Drive” it’s a bit disappointing. Rabid fans of The Cars will have snatched this up on the day it was released. Casual fans such as myself should wait until Move Like This goes on sale. Fortunately The Cars are intending to make more albums in the coming years so hopefully they’ll spend more time polishing their songwriting skills to bless the world with more of that special Cars magical ear candy.

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