Friday, July 2, 2010

Ric Ocasek: Troublizing (1997)

(As published in Real Groove ... )

Ric Ocasek

What hasn't changed: Ocasek still buttresses his new-wave hooks with jittery guitars and high-strung singing, Greg Hawkes still shoots new-wave synthesizer lines into the mix with all the detachment of an anesthesiologist, and the songs still have as many chords as the titles have words. "Fix on You," "People We Know," and "Here We Go" could sneak onto any Cars album undetected, and the breathtakingly sleek "Hang On Tight" could improve the Cars' Greatest Hits. For that matter, so could "Crashland Consequence" and "The Next Right Moment," with the punky "Not Shocked" vying for a wild-card berth. What has changed: Billy Corgan contributes production skills and a song (the negligible "Asia Minor"), and Hole's Melissa Auf der Maur contributes background vocals without which "Hang On Tight" would be neither breathtaking nor sleek. That leaves "Situation," "Society Trance," and the title song in Ocasek-filler limbo. Suitable for heavy rotation nor pondering in the wee hours, they suggest that Corgan is too much in awe of his idol to tell him when enough's enough. And credit to Ocasek anyway for hiring someone with sense enough to crank up the guitars. Alternate title: Smashing Cars.

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