The Cars were the flag bearers for New Wave music in the early 80's. Their music was a mix of guitar rock and synth pop, which was becoming the norm as the 80's progressed. Their debut album in 1978 went platinum, so they had lots of momentum going into this album. They also had one of the best producers of the time in Robert "Mutt" Lange working with them, and this there was the perfect storm for an amazing album.
"You Might Think" hit number seven on the Billboard charts, one of five songs from the album to make the top forty. It's a high energy song, and like most features lead singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek on lead vocals. But the biggest hit from the album was quite different. "Drive" hit number three. It's something of a ballad, and so it's slower, more somber in tone. Bassist Benjamin Orr, who sadly passed away in 2000, sang lead on this one.
The Cars are a rare band that never went through lineup changes (obviously Orr missed the 2010 album "Move Like This", but he was not replaced). In addition to Ocasek and Orr, The Cars included lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist/saxophonist/bassist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. They were very versatile, and complimented each other well, as evidenced by Orr's vocal performance in "Drive". Orr also sang lead for the album tracks "Stranger Eyes" and "It's Not The Night".
But they weren't done with the charts after those two singles. "Magic" became another big hit for the group. Like most of their bigger hits, it's a high energy song that features a strong guitar riff sorted by synthesizers. It has also become a staple of 80's radio. "Hello Again" also crashed the top forty, this more synth heavy than most of the songs from this album, and featuring a section of experimental synth sounds. Again in contrast, "Why Can't I Have You" was the final top forty tune, this one slow and sad in tone. "Heartbeat City", the title track, was also released as a single, but failed to chart.
It's a rare band that can utilize multiple singers at lead vocals, but The Cars made it work extremely well, especially on this album. Orr has a great voice, one that blends so well, you don't even question the change in voice from song to song, it just works. Six of these songs were strong enough to be released as singles, five of them charting in the top forty, and deservedly so. This is a great album up and down, even the album tracks wouldn't be out of place in the Billboard charts of this time period. This is an essential album if you are a fan of 80's music, or of New Wave, or good music in general. The singles are available in all kinds of collections, but it's worth it to get the whole album.