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It used to move better...
on 14 September 2011
"I'm saying never and you can count on that."
So said Ric Ocasek in 1997, in response to a question about the possibility of a reunion of The Cars, the hugely successful new wave/ melodic rock band that featured Ocasek as primary singer and songwriter.
But a lot can happen in fourteen years, especially as there is a new lease of reunited life in this new Millennium for classic rock.
And after The New Cars, the 2005 partial-reunion that included Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton from the original band (with Todd Rundgren taking the role of Ocasek) it was almost inevitable there would be a full reunion and album.
Move Like This, the first Cars studio album in 24 years, could never be a complete reunion, however.
Bass player and second vocalist Benjamin Orr (the voice of such Cars classics as `Drive' and `Just What I Needed') died in 2000, but such was his contribution to the band and chemistry between the original quintet, the remaining four musicians decided not to replace him.
Even without Orr Move Like This sounds exactly as I expected - a mix of that quirky late 70's to mid-80's new wave and melodic power pop-rock that The Cars didn't just excel at but damn near had copyright on.
Songs such as `Blue Tip,' `Too Late' and `Free' are strong examples of that trademark sound in action, while `Keep on Knocking' is a punchy Cars rocker.
`Sad Song' recalls the vibe of `Let's Go' and `My Best Friend's Girl' while `Soon' and `Take Another Look' become the `Drive' songs of the album. Neither, however, comes close to capturing the majesty or atmosphere of that all-time classic.
And therein lies the problem for this listener.
There are some good songs here and a couple of great ones, but as a package the ten songs never match the truly classic Cars songs of the past, perhaps helping confirm they were truly a band of their time.
Once leaders, now followers (ironically of their own tyre tracks).
And as much as Ocasek's quirky and distinct vocal is as much a part of The Cars sound as his songs, the counterbalance of Orr's warmer vocal taking on three or four numbers per album is sadly, and greatly, missed.
The Cars have produced a new Millennium model that is based on the original but with four doors and a detuned engine.
Some will be happy driving both; others may even prefer the newer model.
I much prefer the five-door bigger engine original. And it had a better radio.