The Cars

The Cars

The Cars’ 1978 debut album was a perfect meshing of the Boston group’s energetic New Wave rock smarts and the calculated precision of their producer Roy Thomas Baker, the man responsible for the elaborately layered, operatic productions of Queen. Together, they created an album that in nine distinct doses delivers the smooth, quick ride intimated by the band’s name. “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Just What I Needed”—FM radio staples that roll off the assembly line with streamlined pop hooks, clustered harmony vocals, inventive yet economical guitars, atmospheric keyboards, and rhythms that for all their studio starch still manage to propel with ease. Unlike many of their New Wave peers, The Cars were never afraid of big, glamorous productions, and the deep guitar-keyboard drama of “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “All Mixed Up” make for emotionally powerful performances. The spacey keyboard drizzle of “Moving in Stereo” evokes a weightless world, while the stalker vibe of “I’m in Touch With Your World” is outright creepy.

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