The Cars came onto the scene in 1978, they left it in 1988. When they did call it quits they did as an international super-successful group, one of the most popular on any continent, after helping to create – and then make uber popular – the new-wave sound of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Just to give one an idea; The Cars can boast 12 songs that made it to the Billboard Top 40, and 5 albums that made it to the top ten. Heck, they even won the very first MTV award for best music video of the year, back when MTV was actually about music.
Fast forward to 2010, the year in which The Cars decided to surprisingly get back together. The LP “Move Like This”, which was just released, is the first glimpse at the sound of their reincarnation. One can only guess that after watching bands such as The Stokes and Phoenix become wildly popular employing the very same new-wave rock techniques they helped fabricate, that they either felt like it was the appropriate time for their music to make a come back – or that they knew it would be an easy monetary success – or both. Either way we are the benefactors.
“Move Like This” is a 10 song collection in which we find that The Cars are still very adept at writing solid new-wave styled pop/rock songs. However, it is still on the whole a collection of stock-and-file Cars songs, as they choose not to push themselves into creating anything novel, and wisely choose to just deliver on what they do best. And what they do best just so happens to work just fine with the all around 80’s revival we are witnessing roaring back to popularity in many corners of the contemporary music world.
The album starts off with 3 solid songs. Blue Tip, the album opener, is one of the best on the album. With it’s giddy-electro synth lines, classic Cars rhythm section, and prancingly stuttering guitars, we find a track with a pleasant youthful energy throughout. The lyrics move at a nice clip, and have that great 80’s sing-along quality to them. Track two, Too Late, instead uses a more thickly stomping back-bone beat, which gives it a quasi-danceable energy. It is more of a finesse song, imbibed with a great mellow-rock feel that never crosses the line into being hackneyed. Keep On Knocking is the first song in which The Cars seem to be unabashedly 80’s, and is the first example of a new-wave song that the current indie crowd has yet to replicate, and maybe never will. That may have to do with the more overtly aggressive guitar and the omission of the synth. It’s has an almost categorical “Cars sound”, but it works jut fine.
Yet, unfortunately, not every track on this album came our as successfully. In songs such as Soon, Sad Song, and It’s Only we find ourselves with slow to mid-tempo cadences in which the band seems to be aiming at painting emotional pictures as opposed to writing dynamic songs that call for more advanced musicianship. They are uncomplicated and straightforward to a fault, and have a sound which almost implies being too quickly written (even though in reality that’s probably not the case). One would have to think that these songs are aimed at their former audience, as the “kids” these days (even the ones which love the rebirth of the new-wave sound) are not into what could almost be considered “traditional slow dance songs”.
Overall though the majority of the songs are first-rate. Sad Song is another quality number, and is the first single off of the album. Ironically it has an upbeat feel to it, and with it’s wonderful energy and movement it’s no wonder this is the first single. Hits Me, the album closer, is another one of the better tracks and it too has a swift pace and dynamic progression. With swaggering guitars, climbing synth lines, and engaging lyrics it is another example of this band’s reluctance to reinvent their own wheel, and at the same time shows us why they don’t have to.
“Move Like This”, upon repeated listening, is a collection of songs that are at their best when the rhythms are quicker and their is development in what the guitars and synths are playing within the songs. This means that the unhurried and more unadorned songs don’t do their creators nearly as much justice. However, it must be said that this critique is made through the ears of a listener who didn’t listen to The Cars in their hayday. So for those older fans who lived through the new-wave experience those songs might come off better. That being said, overall this is an album worth obtaining for the old and new fan alike. It clearly showcases their substantial influence they had upon many of the bands which are popular now, while at the same time giving the neo-new-wave movement some positive momentum with some superb songs.
Now all that is left to be seen is if these guys can still bring it live…Move Like This by The Cars