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 have never been better – or more involved. Absent the cheesiness that would mar the group's late-period work, the songs ride on the strength of keyboard-heavy lines and layered harmonies. You will not be disappointed.
Recorded at the band's Synchro Sound studios by famed Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, the album takes advantage of electronic textures and varying timbres in immersing the listener in accessible albeit abstract washes of sound. MoFi's engineers made sure to capture every note and nuance; this marks the first time that Shake It Up has been remastered in any way, let alone from the original tapes.