The Cars – Move Like This (Concord/Universal)

Yes, the 1980s popsters are back with an album of new material. Unlike their 2005 reunion that featured original members Greg Hawkes (keyboards) and Elliott Easton (guitars) and Todd Rundgren fronting for Ric Ocasek, this one includes all four surviving members (bass player Benjamin Orr died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer).

It’s been a long time since The Cars’ last studio album, 1987’s Door To Door, so what do they sound like in 2011? Very much like The Cars of the early 1980s. Anyone who remembers and enjoyed singles like You Might Think, Hello Again and Just What I Needed will most likely find this new collection of tunes comfortably familiar sounding.

The album opens with a couple of synth-driven numbers. Blue Tip finds Ocasek sounding typically skittish and fidgety while Hawkes provides a pulsating electro-pop foundation. Too Late is slightly more downbeat, but still sleek and stylish with a classic Cars hook for its chorus.

Elliott Easton’s guitar makes its presence known on Keep On Knocking and he turns in a very hip psychedelic solo. Next comes Soon, a ballad in the tradition of Drive, the hit that Orr sang back in 1984.

The mood is brought back up with Sad Song, the first single from the album, again featuring a catchy chorus, handclaps and a twangy guitar. The album continues with five further tunes, all of which sound like vintage Cars.

True, the band is not breaking any new musical ground with this record, but Ocasek has penned some fine pop songs and the band has produced (along with Jacknife Lee) an excellent addition to their catalogue.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Keep On Knocking from Move Like This