The Cars, Move Like This, The Chicago Tribune
The name fits. The Cars manufactured sleek, gleaming new-wave jingles, beginning in 1978 with their still-spiffy debut album. Turn on a Cars song, and instantly the world becomes a sea of androgynous boys and girls dressed in vinyl, wearing sunglasses and cruising for anonymous hook-ups.
After nearly three decades apart, the surviving members – Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and David Robinson – have reunited for “Move Like This” (Hear Music), their seventh studio album (cofounding bassist Ben Orr died in 2000). Fans who loved the old Cars will find little has changed. Ocasek turns oddball phrases (“I heard your glockenspiel pounding soft”; “The world is full of quackers/And bellybutton rings”) in a deadpan voice well-suited for reading a William Gibson novel aloud. Jittery sixteenth-note rhythms coalesce into choruses fit for an army of androids to shout into space (“Sad Song,” “Free,” “Hits Me,” “Blue Tip”) while Hawkes breaks out his armada of keyboard squiggles and curlicues.
Though the band hired Garret “Jacknife” Lee (whose credits include Weezer, R.E.M. and the Hives) to produce half the album, his tracks sound interchangeable with the band’s self-produced efforts. The band’s ballads were always a bit draggy, and “Move Like This” contains enough slower or midtempo tracks to make it a bumpy listen. Outside of that immaculate first album, the Cars always made better singles anyway, and that’s still true here.