For a band that has encompassed a huge collection of albums, spawning 3 decades, and seen several musical trends and revolutions, Signals is still the album I find myself going back to again and again. I’d also like to say, that for purchasers of this disc the Re-master (In comparison of the disc that is not), makes Niel’s drums sound a little more crisp, and the album is a bit louder and has erased some of the softness of the recording. That being said on with the review….
I won’t go around echoing the same comments that I have heard here from time to time. The departure from the radio friendly greatness of the last 2 albums, the flat keyboards and poor mixing of Alexs guitar, the absence of 7-10 minute opuses/concepts, the dropping of Terry Brown. All this has been talked about and leaves all those hard core Rush fans (many who seem to borderline be obsessed on the level of Star Trek geeks), too much to fight over.
What I will say is that to me this is an album that distinctly captures a mood and an era that doesn’t exist anymore. The snythns have this demonic dark underpinning, and for the first time there were many songs on the album (for Rush) that had a distinct dark brooding theme to them. Subdivsions doesn’t just hint at the drudgery and disspair of teenage pressure, it’s litteraly hammered home in Geddy’s verse of “conform or be cast out”, as if he had to spell it out for the listeners.
The Weapon, while being a great moody piece for Niel to shine hammers home the possible apocalypse, and Loosing It easily needs no introduction with it’s self-titled moniker, and Ben Minks violin solo. It isn’t so much that Ben’s violin sings as much as it literraly weeps and cries.
Even the glorious Analog Kid which is upbeat in mood and lyric, still sounds as if there is a lingering pathos that just sounds unreal when the sudden abrupt chorus hits of “you move me, you move me.”
For good measure there are other songs that aren’t dark at all, (New World Man, Chemistry, Digital Man), but there is an overhanging cloud that seems to exist over every song.
This to me is the greatness of this album. THe tracks and all the music prowess of the members combined with the early 80’s new wave snyth mood going on, produced a dark complicated album that somehow touches me individualy like no other album. There had been dark themes such as say 2112 but it’s a story, Witch Hunt is a common concept and brooding too, but somehow the bleakness and grandeur of this album speaks to me “personally” for the first time for a Rush album.
The band has still made great phenomenal albums (and even made a bleaker sounding album in Grace Under Pressure), but this is the one that speaks to me. It’s like a perfect conversation with your best friend you haven’t seen in a long time.
There is no album ever that even sounds like this. Do enjoy.