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Rush - Power Windows CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.54 | 940 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Overpowering 80s synths create an underwhelming experience.

After 10 glorious studio albums, 5 of which were revered as masterpieces, Rush produce this and the 80s swallow them whole and they spit out an album that really is not great. I love Rush but have to take stock when they produce this type of non-prog radio friendly matter. There is too much mediocrity and forgettable material on this album that mars an otherwise great experience.

Well, I guess I better focus on the highlights. It certainly begins well with the great rocking 'The Big Money' which has a fantastic melody and there is Lee slappin' de bass. Lifeson is terrific on lead guitar and Peart keeps a consistent tempo that drives it along. The presence of synths is overpowering but it works well enough. The production on the album is treble turned to the max and sounds a bit gutless in the bass department. It is 80s to the max and as a result thins out the heaviness replacing it with crystalline clean textures which is not a good thing for Rush. A bit of dirty guitar would not have harmed the sound but all is restrained and Lee hardly troubles his distortion pedal.

'Marathon' is a wonderful song with an exceptional melody and I love this most of all I think on this album. the lead break is killer and if only they would stick to this formula. I mean we all love hearing Lifeson blaze away on his guitar, don't we? The synths are dominant but here it works beautifully. The chorus is one of the all time great Rush melodies. It has a majestic sound and I can never tire of that uplifting tune. Thank heavens for songs like these which save this album from a very low rating.

'Territories' is another one I have rarely heard but it has a cool drum beat and ethereal synths. It sounds unique on the album, as the music is played differently using subtle variations of instrumental style. Lee sounds very good on vocals. Lifeson's guitars are pitchier and he plays more aggressively especially on the riff leading to the second section. The melody is well executed and overall I really like the song, though is not well known.

Now for the songs that are not so good, and there are too many of them for my comfort. 'Grand Designs' is downright filler material, dull and drenched in synthesizers. There are loud chimes of guitar and it all seems so happy and upbeat and as a result annoying. The Partridge Family were never this happy. 'Manhattan Project' is a forgettable song but at least it rocks, the treble is so thin it hurts my ears though. Man, where is the bass sound, guys? Lee's vocals are overdone and really I would rarely return to this mediocrity.

Rush's overuse of synthesizers on songs like 'Middletown Dreams' and 'Emotion Detector' have not dated well though I am sure in the 80s it blew everyone's socks off. No? Oh well. 'Middletown Dreams' is so crystal clean, sudsy and streamlined you can clean the bathtub with it. The sound screams 80s and the synths are just overpowering throughout. It is little wonder why they don't bother to play this song live anymore, they would clear the building. In all fairness Rush are a product of their time back in the 80s and it is easy to criticise but I only wish they had taken it easy on the radio friendly synth pop. Heck, even Ultravox were darker and heavier than this.

'Emotion Detector' continues in the same vein, synths to the wall and crystal clean pitchiness to blow your ear muffs off. The jangly guitar is relentless but at least the synths are not so demanding. The sound is crisp and happy but at this point I could have done with a distorted blast or a blistering riff, and none are forthcoming; the band are not interested, as they are now sons of the 80s and damn the critics and die hard fans.

'Mystic Rhythms' saves the day with a great closer, not to the standard of the opening tracks but still very good. The electronic percussion makes me take notice of Peart who has been in the background. The melody is better here, the synths are in the background, except for those interminable trumpet blasts. This still has a great feel overall especially the chorus.

"Power Windows" is not the worst Rush album but like "Hold Your Fire", "Roll The Bones" and "Presto" it is among them. Thankfully the 80s would soon be over and Rush would come out the other side with a heavier sound that made them so great in the 70s. 4 decent tracks so it deserves at least 3 stars but of course you would be better off getting hold of any of the previous 10 albums if you want to hear Rush at their absolute best.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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