Led by Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr, The Cars managed to unite then-disparate styles: bubblegum pop melodies, angular art rock, progressive arrangements, and terse minimalism. Orr's low, understated singing and Ocasek's cool, detached vocals lend shades of doubt and double meaning to the lyrics, which are further counterbalanced by orchestral keyboard flourishes and electronic beats. The brilliant arrangements also benefit from a laidback cool and understated irony that remain uncommon in the over-the-top world of mainstream music. Obsessed with incorporating the latest technologies and sounds into its palette, the band spiced its tunes with delightfully quirky accents – country-tinged guitar fills, echoing Syndrums, reggae splashes, hard-rock tones, robotic pulses.
The results are the sounds of a creative landmark. At once accessible and eccentric, edgy and catchy, The Cars explodes with emotion, energy, and hooks. It's impossible not to get caught up humming and singing along to every song, an appeal that comes courtesy of Roy Thomas Baker's stellar production. The legendary producer, best known for his work with Queen, ensured that the record seamlessly packed a smooth midrange, spacious imaging, and call-and-answer choruses in one tight package. Baker's trademark touches with harmony vocals abound.