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Old 12-24-2011, 05:23 AM   #657 (permalink)
Trollheart
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Although Ric Ocasek had flatly stated that the Cars would never reunite, they did, this year, but are of course without their longtime bass player, songwriter and singer Benjamin Orr, who sadly died eleven years ago of cancer. The album was, fittingly, dedicated to him, and in memoriam the remaining Cars decided not to hire a bassist to take his role, but to share the bass duties among Greg Hawkes and producer Jackknife Lee.

Move like this --- The Cars --- 2011 (Hear Music)


So, twenty-four years on from what was to have been their swansong, the excellent “Door to door” (reviewed here a while back), is the magic still there? Perhaps consciously, perhaps not, but in a fitting way the album begins with bass line, soon joined by those bippy keyboards Hawkes is famous for, and which helped define the sound of the band in the seventies and eighties. “Blue tip” was the first single from the album, and it's classic Cars. Boppy with a sense of weirdness about it, Ocasek in fine voice after almost two and a half decades away from the mike, at least with the Cars, and great chunky guitar work from Elliot Easton.

It's a short opening track, and “Too late”, coming next, is a bit more atmospheric, with clangy keys and heartbeat drumming from David Robinson. With a sense of “Just what I needed” in the melody, again it's pure Cars, great backing vocals and rising keyboards, those samply sounds we all like to hear in Cars songs evident again. “Keep on knockin'” is a harder, rockier track, more reminscent of some of Ocasek's solo work, while “Soon” becomes the first ballad, with big heavy organ and nice guitar, a very laidback, relaxed sound, really nice, then “Sad song”, despite its title defies expectations, turning out a boppy, uptempo rocker with great little keyboard fills and bass Orr would have been proud of.

Speaking of Orr, Cars fans will know that he used to share vocal duties with Ocasek, and of course that's him you hear singing on their huge hit “Drive” off “Heartbeat City”, but with the death of his friend Ocasek takes all the vocals himself. Nice that they wanted to keep everything inhouse as a tribute to Orr, but to be honest Ocasek's vocal style can grate at times, and it was always nice to have the “break” that Orr-voiced songs would provide. Without this, it's a little hard but you have to get used to Ric singing every song.

“Free” is another fast rocker with good heavy guitar, and “Drag on forever” is a mid-paced rock smoulderfest, then “Take another look” is another slow ballad, with a nice bassline and some sweet warm synth. The album wraps up with two good rockers, “It's only” and the closer “Hits me”. Good choppy guitar and a very off-the-wall Ocasek vocal.

I have to say, after almost 25 years there are no surprises on this album. It could have been recorded directly after “Door to door”, with the obvious exception that Benjamin Orr's voice would also have graced the album, not to mention his bass. But these guys do not sound like they've been apart for almost a quarter of a century. While nothing staggering, “Move like this” shows a band in great form, comfortable with each other, still writing great songs and able to rock with the best of them. Hopefully it won't be too long before we have their next effort.

TRACKLISTING

1. Blue tip
2. Too late
3. Keep on knocking
4. Soon
5. Sad song
6. Free
7. Drag on forever
8. Take another look
9. It's only
10. Hits me

Suggested further listening: “Heartbeat City”, “Door to door”
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