The Cars: Move Like This

The Cars
Move Like This
(Hear Music)

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Anyone with fond memories of The Cars will be happy to hear there’s still some mileage left in their familiar new wave sound.

Move Like This is the group’s first album since 1987’s Door to Door. Most of the elements that made The Cars run remain: Ric Ocasek’s hiccupping, robotic half-spoken vocals, Elliot Easton’s understated guitar work, Greg Hawkes’ slick synths, Dave Robinson’s steady undercurrent and even those syncopated hand claps. What’s missing is bassist Benjamin Orr’s steady, suave lead vocals, which would have served to counterbalance Ocasek’s quirky chirping. Orr died in October 2000 from pancreatic cancer; Hawke shares bass duties with producer Jacknife Lee.

“Too Late,” the most memorable upbeat cut, is highlighted by Robinson’s stomping beat, Hawke’s swirling synths and Ocasek’s typically wry lyrics: “Never gonna get that crazy/I’m never gonna be shot down/You know it takes a lot to phase me/Whenever you’re around/You can throw a twist and I can dance like this.”

The Gary Numan-like pysch synths on “Blue Tip” recall the group’s heyday. Easton’s bluesy guitar fills give “Drag on Forever” a measure of swagger. Ocasek’s out of his element on the ballads, which nevertheless impress. “Soon,” Ocasek’s love song to former supermodel wife Paulina Porizkova, resembles a Jeff Lynne production with layered back up vocals and soft, shimmering guitar.

Move Like This is no Cadillac, but it isn’t an Edsel either. It offers hope that since The Cars enjoyed this trip, they’ll update their sound and continue recording together.  As Ocasek says in the closing number, “Hits Me”: “I gotta just get through these changing times.”

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