Album #35: Move Like This — The Cars (2011)
I’ll say the same thing I said when this record came out:
“The simple fact that I can write a sentence with the phrase ‘new Cars album’ is reason enough to celebrate. That it’s actually a solid, catchy record is a minor miracle. 24 years after they called it quits, a sudden impulse overtook Ric Ocasek, and he decided to get the band back together one more time. Maybe he was feeling old, or, more likely, Ocasek didn’t want the awful “Door to Door” to be The Cars’ swan song, but whatever the reason, — OH MY GOD THERE’S A NEW CARS ALBUM.
“Granted, it isn’t perfect: Benjamin Orr, who died of cancer in 2000, is sorely missed. It was Orr’s voice that carried the band’s ballads, and Ocasek isn’t up to the task, straining to match the gossamer tones the songs need. That said, Ocasek’s writing is as beat and whip-smart as ever, and the overall effect is incredible. They somehow managed to pick up their original sound, as if they had stepped out for a smoke instead of taking a quarter century break, with songs that both recall their biggest hits and feel completely new. In it’s review, the AV Club said, ‘considering how many other bands have tried to make modern versions of classic Cars songs, it’s nice to see the original article doing it better than most.’”
“This isn’t just a nostalgic cash grab by a bunch of old dudes playing at new wavers. Ocasek’s lyrics in particular are world worn, a generational coda to the capricious cool of their top 40 hits. As one critic said, ‘Sad Song’ is the bookend to ‘Let’s Go’ and ‘My Best Friend’s Girl,’ as though it’s sung by the same character thinking about how much he’s learned since. And ‘Hits Me’ is clearly penned by a guy who been through it all and just wants to get to next week. It is their darkest album since ‘Panorama.’
“And, still, it’s a joy. My brother saw them perform in Philly (at the Electric Factory no less) and said, while they weren’t a great live act they were never a great live act. Yet, it was absolutely clear these four guys were just plain happy to be on stage and playing together, and that reenergized youthful enthusiasm — along with a fans who felt the same way — made for a great show. While it would have been good to see them one more time, I’m just happy I’ve got one more Cars album to listen to, one that fits perfectly along side their very best stuff.”