RUSH — Signals (review)

RUSH — Signals album cover Album · 1982 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Modrigue
Signs of life in the 80's

Released after the melting-pot album "Moving Pictures", "Signals" represents one of RUSH's biggest musical mutation. The transformation started in 1980 is now complete: dominated by synthesizers, and even sequencers, the music is radio-friendly, less aggressive, contains less guitars. The tracks have all a normal duration and are neither progressive nor metal anymore. Already explored by the band, the reggae sections are also more present. Last point to mention: Geddy Lee's voice sounds now perfectly clean. So... is the end of RUSH as we know it? Yes. Is it worth listening? Yes too.

Rather than turning commercial, this evolution denotes the will of the Canadians to explore new musical directions in the new decade, however this does not necessarily result in a soapy 80's pop-rock. After all, this is RUSH. The inspiration is here, and, if the compositions display an homogeneous style, they still use uncommon time signatures.

The change of musical direction can be heard from the very first seconds. Featuring passages with different rhythms, "Subdivisions" is a powerful synth-rock opener, with a nice melody. Alternating rocking and calmer moments, "The Analog Kid" is driven by an energetic guitar and includes a cool guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. Nonetheless, the overall is a bit uneven. On the contrary, "Chemistry" is my favorite song of the record. A nearly cosmic overture and heroic melody, it rocks! The very cool "Digital Man" contains top-notch bass playing, reggae-based sections and numerous rhythm structures changes.

Even more surprising, the spacey disco-rock "The Weapon" is quite convincing and epic! Then comes "New World Man", a pleasant a soft reggae-rock that an remind THE POLICE at times. Featuring Ben Mink, a friend of the band, at electric violin, I'm not really a big fan of the "Losing It" and tend to find this ballad a bit flat. The only true weak track of the disc for me. The closer "Countdown" is a tribute to the NASA and its astronauts. The song narrates the launch of Space Transportation System-1, the first orbiter of NASA's Columbia Space Shuttle program. The band attended the event in 1981 in Orlando. The track incorporates genuine radio dialogs between the two pilots, John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen, before and during the flight, and is dedicated to them. Not the best passage of the album, but enjoyable.

As may understand, we're not in hard/heavy prog rock anymore. No long 70's hard/heavy prog ambitious suites like on "2112" or "Hemispheres" here. No new-wave either. 'Synthetic reggae-rock' could be an attempt to describe the style the musicians adopted on "Signals". For sure, the eighties' synthesizers sound quite dated, but this does curiously not prevent the tracks from being pleasant and original. Again, this is RUSH, so this is still creative in its way as no other band were offering something musically comparable at the time. Furthermore, this opus has a rather constant quality, and remains better than most 70's' progressive bands' releases in the 80's.

If you only know the seventies' years of RUSH, prepare for a surprise, but a good one. Accessible and lively, "Signals" opens new horizons for the Canadians, and should please fans of the trio, THE POLICE, or even reggae!
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more than 2 years ago
Yes, I like this album too, though the last two tracks loose steam for me. The Weapon, Chemistry, Subdivisions are all great. Analogue Kid remains a favourite of mine. Love the bass, the ripping guitar solo and the melodic chorus with the synthesizers.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Really like this one, especially Chemistry and The Weapon.

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