“The Cars” by the Cars
By Evan Ferstl
The Cars’ self-titled debut album, released in 1978, marked a transition in popular music. The band combined the sound of 70s radio rock with new wave, the genre that would dominate the 80s. Frontman Ric Ocasek embodied this marriage of styles perfectly, translating his neurotic delivery into genuine rock star swagger. This album quickly propelled the Boston rockers into stardom, particularly off the strength of its most well-known songs: “Just What I Needed,” “Good Times Roll,” and “My Best Friend’s Girl,” making it worth a review 40 years later.
Listening to the album, the band’s favorite topic quickly becomes evident: romance. Whether fulfilling, abusive, confusing, or broken, the band takes on all types of romantic relationships. The group combines feelings of elation and satisfaction with desperation and resignation, concocting a melting pot of electrifying grooves. The repetition of “everything will be alright” on the chorus of “All Mixed Up” comes off as both honest and ironically bittersweet, embodying this blend of emotion which makes the album excellent listening for almost any occasion. It almost feels like the appeal of pop music can be discovered through one drive with “The Cars.”
If the album falls short of perfect, it’s because of two forgettable tracks: “I’m In Touch With Your World” and “Don’t Cha Stop.” However, the other seven songs more than make up for this wasted time. With one of the greatest debuts in rock history, The Cars crafted an enduring legacy while promising more greatness to come.