Album Review: The Cars, Move Like This (Hear Music)

(Article first published as Music Review: The Cars - Move Like This on Blogcritics.)

Hot on the heels of Devo’s first new music in decades comes The Cars’ Move Like This, a shiny return 24 years after their last output.

Eerily, it sounds uncannily like The Cars. By this I mean, front man and songwriter Ric Ocasek, with surviving members Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson found a way to collapse time and record the rightful and much stronger successor to 1987’s Door to Door without sounding dated whatsoever.

Right from the start, “Blue Tip,” with its analog, Kraftwerkian keyboard sputters meshed with tinny guitar riffs and Ocasek’s quirky non sequiturs, it’s like the '90s and '00s never happened.

Amazingly, while there has been very little tinkering to The Cars’ sound, we’re not dealing with an overt regurgitation, as there is a freshness to every 16th note and an underlying enthusiasm propping up the harmonizing vocals. As an added bonus, “Sad Song” pulls no new wave punches with its blissful handclaps in the chorus!

The band’s other lead vocalist, Ben Orr, succumbed to cancer in 2000, and he is missed on this outing. His voice was the warmer between him and Ocasek, which made for a richer balance.

Ocasek carries the upbeat power pop deftly, but without Orr, the slower tracks on Move Like This fall flat and act as speed bumps to the overall experience and flow. Thankfully, The Cars found a way to preserve the album’s momentum by keeping the softer tracks, like the Cyndi Lauper-esque “Take Another Look,” short and somewhat unobtrusive.

Largely, the album propels through jarringly familiar, yet welcomed landscape, and you enjoy the ride. With only a small smattering of nostalgic sprinkles and slower tempo intervals, Move Like This is a fresh and refreshing re-introduction to a band who plays it like they never left.

--Chris "Gutter" Rose