It doesn’t take long for the Cars to state their intentions on “Move Like This,” the Boston band’s first studio album in about 25 years.
The Cars, “Move Like This”
It doesn’t take long for the Cars to state their intentions on “Move Like This,” the Boston band’s first studio album in about 25 years. The CD opens with a simple synthesizer line that could have come from Devo, Gary Numan or the Cars themselves, circa 1980. By the bridge of the opener, “Blue Tip,” you’re hooked.
Four songs later, we get the synchronized clapping that the band used to memorable effect on “My Best Friend’s Girl,” off their seminal debut album in 1978. The tune is “Sad Song,” and it’s the disc’s single (if we were still back in the days when bands released singles). By the time the song is over, it’s pretty clear the band is making no apologies for resurrecting their signature sound.
And why should they? No need for the Cars to reinvent the wheel; their pleasing blend of New Wave pop-rock, with a hint of punk, worked just fine, thank you very much. And any of the songs on “Move Like This” would fit comfortably on their best albums.
Listening to “Move Like This” is surprisingly comforting, like running into an old high school buddy and picking up right where you left off. And they got the band back together again — Ric Ocasek (vocals and guitar), Elliot Easton (guitar), Greg Hawkes (keyboard) and David Robinson (drums). The only one missing is singer/bassist Benjamin Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.
You’ll easily recognize Ocasek’s vocals — still quirky, distinctive and completely without range. “It’s Too Late” is a highlight of the album, urgent and relentlessly catchy, classic Cars. Ocasek sounds older and more wistful on the ballad “Soon;” perhaps he’s been softened by love and age. “You’re my lover and forever my friend,” he sings. The dreamy “Take Another Look” could be the music interlude in a John Hughes film.
The band keeps the whole thing to a swift 10 songs, as if not wanting to wear out their welcome. No risk of that. “Move Like This” stands up next to the band’s best albums, and listening to it for the first time may remind you how much you’ve missed them.