Cars - Shake It Up LP (Neon Green Vinyl)
A return to form after the departure that was 1980's muddled Panorama, the Cars' Shake It Up bursts forth with a rich assembly of synthesizers, drum machines, electronic blips, and catchy melodies that make it an early 80s pop staple. Known the world over, the famous title track proves the band's arrangement skills were in perfect shape and set the stage for a record overflowing with memorable hooks and complementary rock riffs.
Shake It Up also plays witness to primary songwriter/vocalist Ric Ocasek's increased cynicism and biting wit. While the Cars never took a rosy-eyed view of romance, the songs here impart a newfound sense of sympathy, regret, limbo, and reservation. The beauty of the Cars – and all ten tunes here – is that the music suggests something else entirely. Such subliminal emotions and dynamic contrasts act as a magnet, and the band plays as if it's in on the secret.
Apart from the party vibe of the title cut, the Cars aim for deeper targets and smarter undertones. Shake It Up is defined by an urban edginess and modern feel that comes alive on tunes such as "Cruiser" and circular "I'm Not the One," a pop gem laded with stacked vocals and keyboard lines that double as a horn section. The band's arrangements were never better – or more involved - and the songs ride on the strength of keyboard-heavy lines and layered harmonies.