The Cars

Elektra, 1980

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Experimentation is a dangerous thing, no matter what is being experimented on. If everything goes right, something new and unique is created. If things go wrong, what’s left can be very bad.

This comes to mind as one listens to Panorama, the third studio effort from The Cars. They had experimented with their sound on Candy-O, and the overall result was quite pleasant. This time around, though, the experimentation goes awry really quickly, leaving an album that is easily the worst of their career to that point.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Right from the opening title track, you know you’re in for a difficult listen. Trying out a different spin on their music, Ric Ocasek and crew not only stumble out of the gate, they fall creatively on their faces. Musically, it doesn’t fit who The Cars were, and what they were capable of; the minimalism of “Panorama” works against everything they were.

It doesn’t get much better from there. “Touch And Go” is the weakest single they had ever released, while “Gimmie Some Slack” has the band trying to channel Devo with their sound and delivery. Simply put, it doesn’t work.

The remainder of Panorama sounds as if The Cars took half-baked leftovers from their previous two albums, threw them together, and hoped that it would pass for an album. One listen to tracks like “Up And Down,” “Misfit Kid” and “You Wear Those Eyes,” and it’s clear that the experiment is a failure.

And that’s what bothers me about Panorama—Ocasek and crew knew better. They knew they were capable of so much better; their previous two discs served as ample proof. Panorama has the overall feel like they had to submit something to the label to satisfy the powers that be, and this was hastily thrown together. Had they taken a bit more time to write more cohesive songs with richer instrumentation, and weeded out some of the chaff that pass as songs on this one, it could have been so much better.

As it is, Panorama is a disc that is best left at the side of the road, with its hazard lights flashing. The Cars were capable of great music during their career. This album is not an example of that.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2022 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra, and is used for informational purposes only.