Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 7 a.m.
Today, The Cars release their first record since 1987's Door to Door. The new album, Move Like This, also marks the band's first album without bassist and co-lead vocalist Benjamin Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, twelve years after The Cars broke up.
Orr's harmonies and bass lines are missed on Move Like This, but the band managed to craft a solid album that sounds like classic Cars, upgraded with reclaimed radio-friendly edges. The Cars were pioneering the sound of some of today's chart-topping bands as far back as 1978. For example, the first single, "Sad Song," is ironically upbeat. It's upbeat, 80s-prime New Wave Cars, punctuated by hand-claps and carried by the sort of dreamy keyboard bridges and dance-rock beats adopted by contemporary chart-topping bands like The Killers. But listen to The Cars' "Moving in Stereo" (1978) or "Drive" (1984), and you'll hear the same things.
The lead track on Move Like This
, "Blue Tip," is another standout, with its quirky synthesizers and bouncy pop beat. It's not the kind of song that blows you away so much as the kind that makes you unconsciously tap your foot or bob your head. There's also "Keep on Knocking," driven by a meaty rock guitar riff and some knee-cracking tom drum fills.
There are some duds on the new disc: "Free," which uses the same springy drum beat as The Cars' "Bye Bye Love" and The Knack's "My Sharona," and the aptly titled "Drag on Forever," a jangly, loose, Dylan-esque ditty complete with tambourine and xylophone, but that can't seem to find a chorus. Vocalist Ric Ocasek's voice sounds as deep and rich as ever, save for the twinkly, soft ballad "Soon," which is vocally flat but has some nice, spacey guitar work. The better ballad on Move Like This is "Take Another Look," a New Wave love song shining with a steady and simple beat, rich layers of guitars and synthesizers, and some bull's eyes on harmonies.
Overall, this is a solid new album from The Cars. It may not be as commercially successful as the efforts of the younger bands The Cars influenced, but it's better than most of the records already released this year. The Cars only released six albums in the ten years they were together, and it's impressive that after a 22-year hiatus and the loss of a key band member, The Cars can recapture their sound and make it seem like it's only been a couple years since their last album.