What does it sound like?:
It’s always been a bit of a surprise to me that The Cars had so much success Stateside and yet relatively little here in comparison. Maybe their brand of new wave power pop didn’t travel very well, but ask most people to name one of their songs other than Drive and you’ll be met with a blank look.
Their second and third albums are reissued, as is the norm now in remastered form with a handful of bonus tracks.
The better of the two is 1979’s Candy-O, produced by Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame. The big hit single Let’s Go is by far the strongest song, the rest being acceptable but pretty one paced – America’s take on the new wave sound. While the songs are short with some catchy hooks, they are rather samey and all blend into one after a while – pretty generic stuff. The extra material comprises one previously unreleased song, which is nothing special, a non album B side and five early mixes of album tracks. Of these, the slightly rougher version of Let’s Go is again by far the highlight.
The follow up, 1980’s Panorama, was met with a cool reception in the press but went platinum anyway. Again there’s one real stand out track, Touch And Go, while the rest are quite mediocre . The best that can be said is that maybe the band were trying to move away from their now trademark glossy sound to explore some different musical avenues, but overall it sounds like an experiment that didn’t really come off. At least they tried a few things outside their comfort zone, so I suppose they deserve some credit for that. The bonus tracks comprise three previously unreleased songs plus another non album B side, but none of them set the pulse racing to be honest.
What does it all *mean*?
Of the two albums, Candy-O is by far the strongest, but you can probably get all The Cars you need on their very good greatest hits album. That plays to their strengths, cherry picking the one or two strong songs that featured on each album, while ignoring the filler.
Goes well with…
Bubble gum and soda.
Might suit people who like…
New wave skinny tied power pop.