Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cars - Move Like This

Your jaw will drop within moments after dropping the needle on The Cars’ Move Like This.

Even if you’re not actually listening to it on vinyl, you’ll search for a turntable because Move Like This is an amazing recreation of the same sounds that made The Cars a familiar name on the airwaves during the late 70’s early 80’s. It’s also a bit of redemption from the whimper that was the band’s swan song, Door To Door.

Notice that there’s a difference between “amazing recreation” and just plain “amazing.” While Ric Ocasek may indeed have the chops to bring a smile to any Gen X’er with a decent memory and have the talent to actually best a mediocre effort, he still hasn’t demonstrated an ability to recreate a solid set of songs that will woo over novice listeners to consider how downright incredible The Cars were for at least three albums.

It also won’t threaten Heartbeat City’s role as the band’s most ubiquitous effort-but then again, Ocasek probably gets that people stopped buying records in the quarter-century since we’ve seen a new Cars record.

Curiously, there’s little to dance about or groove to on Move Like This. That’s not to suggest there’s no foot-tapping rhythm here, there’s just no blatant pop like the kind that marred Shake It Up or perfected on Heartbeat City. Move Like This is wonderfully dark in places, which has been Ocasek’s strong point throughout his career. “I gotta just get through it…these changing times” he admits on the closer, “Hits Me,” but with over half-of the songs matching a perfect blend of nostalgia and a record of unique identity, you wonder why he was so adamant about not wanting to return to the Cars’ moniker, especially when one critical member was still with us.

Yes, the fact that there’s no Benjamin Orr to bring some smooth baritone to the mix is a problem. His passing means that some of the slower material just ends up being forgettable and the beautiful vs. quirky vocal blends of records past tend to make Move Like This a bit samey after a while.

Still, you’ve got to credit Ocasek for coming up with enough winners to warrant a title change from Move Like This to more like this.

And hopefully there will be.

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