The Cars’ often-overlooked Candy-O still revs with excitement

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In 1978, the Cars came racing out of seemingly nowhere, peddling a self-titled debut album that not only teemed with insanely great songs, but brought a refreshing change of scenery to the radio dial — which at the time was monopolized by disco music and wimpy pop-rock lullabies.

An agreeable intersection of restless punk energy and quirky new wave gloss constituted The Cars, capped off by a bounty of bouncy and bubbly pop grooves. Cold and icy vocals, reminiscent of David Bowie, crooned the stirring tunes, while curtains of criminally contagious harmonies sealed the deal. The band’s sound, which was even further enhanced by slick and smooth production skills, was smart, modern and downright attractive.

Expectations were naturally running high for the Boston-based band’s subsequent venture when Candy-O was released on June 13, 1979. Not quite as immediate or artfully cool as The Cars, the record, nevertheless, featured a flurry of fetching songs. Gripping tight to the winning formula that volleyed them into the big leagues in the first place, the Cars lather the material on the album with their signature display of choppy rhythms, jittery keyboard creases, stabbing hooks and clipped tempos.

Navigated by a romping beat, the finger-clicking “Let’s Go” seized the national Top 20 charts, while “Got a Lot on My Head” pulsates with desperate determination, and the ominous mood of “Dangerous Type” smolders with sexually charged motions.

There’s nothing heavy going on here. Packed with snappy new wave styled ditties, Candy-O is fun to listen to and sing along with. The Cars are one of the few bands that never really messed with their original blueprint and encountered several years of solid gold success. And Candy-O offers just the kind of ear candy the band had a flair for creating.

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