The late 1970’s new wave inspired rock band The Cars are back again with their first new album since 1987, MOVE LIKE THIS, which includes all the original members except for bassist Benjamin Orr who died of pancreatic cancer back in 2000. Orr sang lead on former hits such as “Just What I Needed”, “Let’s Go” and “Drive”. However, Ric Ocasek manages well enough with lead vocals duty with his unique new wave influenced vocal quality. But, that hardly helps a mediocre return by this legendary band where few songs have anywhere near the magic of the debut album THE CARS from 1978.
“Sad Song” is the first single from the new album which debuted this past week. It’s not a bad song. But the album could use more high points like the first album had. The debut album by The Cars was a classic, while this is merely an acceptable album by comparison. Part of the magic of glory days of The Cars was the vocals of Benjamin Orr. His more versatile rock style than Ric Ocasek was about to sell a ballad song like “Drive”, while able to carry off the up-tempo hits like “Just What I Needed” and “Let’s Go”. Ric Ocasek’s vocal style always sounds decidedly more new wave by comparison.
Interestingly, one up-tempo song, “Keep On Knocking”, seemed to lift a few of the keyboard riff notes from “Born To Be Wild”, which I thought was sort of cute, but maybe not really a professional touch. But, I enjoyed it.
It’s great to hear The Cars again. But, I had much higher expectations than this effort. I expected a few tracks to grab me just like the old days. But, none really did. And even “Sad Song” is far from the best single this group has ever released. But, I’m still happy I purchased this album.
The Bottom Line: Acceptable enough, but hardly a classic album. The return of The Cars is a little short of glorious, but still welcome. ++(Two Stars, fair. If you’re a fan of this group, you should still buy this album, otherwise this latest effort will do little to make you a new fan).