The New Cars: It's Alive!

I'm certain that former Cars members Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, and David Robinson were spinning in their graves when they first heard this pseudo-reunion band. The fact that Ocasek and Robinson aren't even dead yet is a testament to how awful this album is -- and how intelligent they were for avoiding this stinker as if it were the rear end of a '74 Pinto.

It's Alive! is so bad that I'm not sure which aspect of awfulness to focus on. Should I look at Todd Rundgren's pitiful attempt to recreate the vocals of Ocasek and Orr? (He kinda sorta not-really pulls it off, except on "Drive, where he -- or maybe bassist Kasim Sulton -- sounds like an unshaven female impersonator.) Or do I look at Elliott Easton's shreddertastic guitar solos that reek of an insecure man who spent years standing in Ocasek's shadow? How about their need to record a "live" album at a private soundstage outside Los Angeles instead of on the road? Or maybe the generic 12-bar-blues of the newly composed "Not Tonight," with awe-inspiring lyrics like "So put me in your Blackberry / and I'll take your email."

So what's good about It's Alive!? Well, the only obvious thing is that it's very easy to spot which Cars songs (almost all of which were written by the absent Ocasek) haven't stood the test of time. "Candy-O," "You're All I've Got Tonight," and "Dangerous Type" are all songs that I remember liking, but they're relatively weak and their cracks really show in this context.

Music: 1 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
A more apt title would've been It's A Steaming Pile of Crap! The New Cars can't ruin pop gems like "Moving In Stereo" and "My Best Friend's Girl," but they have all the heart and soul of a cover band at a sports bar in Hagerstown. If you want to hear these songs, pick up one of the greatest hits collections from The Cars. I still feel cheated for the hour of my life The New Cars stole from me.

Packaging: 2 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
Completely generic, but competent. This is probably the edgiest thing that dodgy-jazz album cover designer Kurt Sievert has ever done.

Listen if you like: masochism; living in the past; attending high school reunions so you can mock people who live in the past.

If it were food, it'd be: those rotten leftovers in the back of your fridge that you brought home last year and then forgot about.


bob_vinyl said...

This is one that I'm sure makes you really appreciate the "F" in EPFL!

You know, Todd Rundgren's music has never done a thing for me, but I kind of lazily accepted that he's a great producer. This album shook me out of that laziness, because it's so bad that it can't hide from even the most pedestrian of ears. If Rundgren really was a great producer, he'd recognize what a complete piece of crap he had with the New Cars.

Mr. Long Island said...

You guys sounds like a pair of self-important assholes. I saw The New Cars live last summer and saw an arena full of Cars fans enjoying every moment of hearing "their" songs live. If it were up Ocasek, of course, they would never have been able to experience this again.

Rundgren has forgotten more about producing great music than you two will ever know. You deserve each other.

taotechuck said...

One thing I liked about living in NY was that people were willing to call you an asshole to your face. And you, Mr. Long Island, embody that mindset -- at least to the degree that you chose not to hide under the cover of making an anonymous comment. Kudos to you.

And I agree, Rundgren has forgotten more than I will ever know about producing great music. In fact, It's Alive proves just how little he remembers about producing great music.

bob_vinyl said...

Mr Long Island - Have fun living in the past. Personally, I prefer that music move forward. Were you first in line to relive the Police as well?

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I was going to comment, but it got thick with smoke in here...