The Cars' disbandment wasn’t necessarily fractious but their afterlife sure was, with the band itching to reunite while their lead voice and face, Ric Ocasek, opted out. Bassist Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, but that didn’t slow the desire for a reunion. Guitarist Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes took matters into their own hands in 2005, joining forces with Todd Rundgren and associates for the not-bad-at-all New Cars, and that seemed to be the end of the story until 2010, when all surviving members -- Ocasek, Easton, Hawkes, and drummer David Robinson -- headed into the studio with producer Jacknife Lee, who also pinch-hit on bass, to cut Move Like This, an album that defies all odds by sounding exactly like a classic Cars album. Certainly, Move Like This contains more of the sleek assurance of their prime than their 1987 farewell, Door to Door, and this is surely a deliberate move; the Cars take no liberties with their patented steely, stylish throb, weaving in allusions to past glories with Easton’s tightly wound riffs and Hawkes’ echoed keyboards. The remarkable thing is, for as proudly new wave as Move Like This is, it doesn’t feel desperate or cautious: it’s as bright, infectious, and tuneful as the Cars at their prime. Of course, even the best Cars albums (with the notable exception of their eponymous 1978 debut) provide slightly bumpy rides, slowing down on the ballads and sometimes meandering in the middle, and while this 2011 comeback falls prey to this curse, the band rights itself quickly, continuing to deliver pieces of prime pop like “Sad Song,” “Hits Me,” “Keep on Knocking,” and “Too Late” -- and especially “Blue Tip,” the best song here, which would be among the best songs on any of their other albums.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine