The Cars

Elektra Records, 1979

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, being a music reviewer is a difficult job. How can you justify ripping apart an album for being "outdated":when, at the time of its release, it was one of the most innovative in its genre?

In the case of The Cars' second effort Candy-O, I can't justify tearing it apart for that reason. I can't ream it for the musicianship, though I would have preferred to hear a little more lead guitar than keyboard doodling from Greg Hawkes. I can't even fault it for the hit singles, such as "Let's Go," which still is an incredible track today. (Some narrow-minded individuals may find fault in the Vargas-painted cover, but you won't hear me complaining.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In fact, many of the performances on Candy-O stand out as being somewhat experimental. Rather than play it safe by copying the sound they found fame with on their debut album, Ric Ocasek and crew pushed the envelope a bit with this release and refined their performance to the point that there is very little wrong with this album.

That said, let's get the one weakness out of the way - the song "Lust For Kicks." This is the only cut that doesn't do anything for me as a listener - and the diction on the song makes it sound like a love sonnet to a certain breakfast cereal.

But the rest of the album has held up incredibly well for three reasons: songwriting, songwriting, and songwriting. "Since I Held You" is the forgotten classic on this album - understandably so, because it is wedged between two Top 40 hits, "Let's Go" and "It's All I Can Do." (A third song, "Dangerous Life," still gets play on classic rock radio.) The short snippet "Shoo-Be-Doo" is The Cars at their most bizarre (though it is somewhat enjoyable), and the title track is a piece of power-pop that isn't quickly forgotten.

In some senses, you can hear the future of The Cars on Candy-O - a future that would later manifest itself in their swansong, Heartbeat City. This is a perfect example of how an album can successfully stand the passage of time and sound fresh.

On second thought, sometimes being a music reviewer is an easy job.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A



© 1997 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.