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Rush - Signals CD (album) cover

SIGNALS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.95 | 954 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Moving Pictures saw the end of Rush's "classic era" with a fitting farewell, and ushered in the "synth era" of their career. Signals was the perfect opener to that era, with crisp and fresh synths, catchy riffs, and precision timing. Gone were the 10 minute epics about people in New York and London, and in came more concise songs about the aspirations of youth, fear of the weapon, and losing all your composure. Most also consider this album to be the beginning of the "Alex Lifeson Syndrome", which is when he changed his hair, amplification devices, and guitars for every album/tour as well as the loss his "lead edge" that he had in the 70's. Geddy Lee was beginning to experiment with more predominant synthesizers on this one (the Oberheim gets special recognition), and Neil Peart was giving his all with precision patterns and rhythms that fit so brilliantly with the music. This album is nothing short of brilliant musically.

Subdivisions opens the album with a refreshing 7/8 Oberheim pattern in a droning F#. It seemlessly goes into a 4/4 riff that revolves around the same chordal pattern. The lyrics on this one hold true even today, that if you don't conform with what people think is "normal" then you are an outcast (Neil Peart cuts right to the core at this one, he experienced this sort of behavior during his high school years, often being considered an outcast himself). The 3/4 chorus blares with stifling runs by Geddy Lee before the eponymous chorus comes into play. Lifeson's solo on this one is well executed on this song, foreshadowing his future solo styling. The Analog Kid keeps up the theme of the aspirations of youth with a staggering rhythm that is classic Lifeson riffing. Peart precision drumming during the chorus is nothing short of breaktaking, and Lifeson stabs at the solo, performing a tremolo washed solo that gives allusion to La Villa Strangiato in a way.

Chemistry is the only Rush song that gives lyrical credit to all members and has some very nice synth sections and some precision chords during the verses. Digital Man begins with a precision drum fill by Peart, and has some nice open note chords in the beginning. The "reggae" chorus section was up to much dispute when they were recording this album, Terry Brown being against it and the band being toward it (this little studio battle would essentially be the final straw before Rush would seek a new producer on the new album). The Weapon follows it, and as Neil Peart describes, the drum track on this one is his most machine like (because the initial drum track on this one was produced by Geddy on a drum machine). This song is another part of the Fear trilogy and is the strongest of the bunch along with Witch Hunt.

New World Man was initially conceived as a filler of the album, but became a strong track in the end. It's well timed sequencer intro followed by more Lifeson riffing is well planned and the chorus is catchy and upbeat. Kudos to Neil Peart for the lyrics which give a nod to Tom Sawyer of the past album. Losing It is in my opinion one of the best songs on the album. The differentiation between 5/8 and 6/8 on this song and the main theme is creative and a well conceived idea, and the electric violin on it gives a very surreal feel to the song. The 11/8 section in which Lifeson solos is superb and the band keep perfect rhythm together. Unfortunately, this song has never been played live, so no one has ever gotten the chance to see the magic of this song on the stage. Countdown ends the album and is a fitting ending. The main riff and chord structure is tight and cohesive, Geddy's synth breakdowns between the choruses are consistent and fun to listen to, the guitar solo is energetic and full of life, and the lyrics are charming and very visual.

Overall, this is the best album of Rush's synth era. Strong melodies, strong ideas, strong rhythms, strong lyrics, this album has it all. My highest recommendation is given to this album, and no fan of Rush should be without it. 5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 5/5 |

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