I've been on a bit of a break from music.
Shocking, I know.
However, one truth of mine is that I can easily let go of stuff that doesn't keep me interested. I tend to look at this trait as a big positive. Others might disagree. If something is not qualitative, I'll give it some attention out of fundamental politeness and general respect for the genre. However, my academic quarter is just that: a brief interval of artistic etiquette.
But maybe other things have been at play in my recent nonchalant attitude vis-a-vis music. Be that as it may, after five weeks of no active music listening, (sacre bleu, I know!), I'm back.
After feeling no inspiration while scrolling down the thousands and thousands of track titles in my library, I thought I'd gain some distance between my muse, music, and my quotidianity. Instead, in my long drives and writing intervals, I'd listen to Marc Maron's brilliant podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. And, since I have long been a lover of stand-up comedy since seeing live acts back East, listening to Marc Maron interview comics has been most gripping and informative.
But, I'm not one to be without music for long. While my love of novelty might be too strong to resist, my long-term commitment to music is indisputable. And in the end, it always wins. I always pick it.
Enter The Cars.
Their new album, Move Like This, is the stuff of true skill. It's brilliant, very now, oozing experience-forged skill, and just very sexy. Hot. Very hot! In a time in music where prefab tracks and auto-tune seem to call the shots and true talent is obfuscated by way of cheaply manufactured aesthetics, coming across actual quality feels so refreshing. I had been parched and tonight I feel sated. Tracks like "Hits Me," "It's Only" and "Keep On Knocking" have a kind of masterful pace that make one wonder how such melodic perfection could be produced. So good. Great guitar, incomparable synthesizer, unparalleled vocals and just general 'cool' are what The Cars' new album is all about.
Every track is infused with a sense of history and contemporaneity which I've always thought hard to pull off. You listen to a track like "Take Another Look" and you know that feeling both melancholy and levity is a genuine possibility in the realm of good music. When a band tries to tip the hat to times past, it runs the risk of sounding dated. When it tries to be as 'now' as it can, it runs the risk of being slapped with accusations of affectation. However, The Cars do it just right. The listener is transported to times past while being firmly aware of what it means to be contemporary.
You don't make good art by accident. You make good art by study and constant practice. It took the Cards a couple of decades to put forth a new album but, holy crap, they've produced a hell of an album. So, sorry Marc Maron, I'll have to retire your podcast for a bit. Well, I've listened to every episode by now anyway and I'll re-visit your stuff in a little while. I'll be courting The Cars now. And I invite you all to do the same. You will love this.