After the success of "Permanent Waves", Rush were on a roll. "Moving Pictures" consolidated their hold. And then came "Signals". Although - like every Rush album - there are some whose favourite it was, for me it represented a loss of form, a loss of momentum, a loss of... Rushness. Too much synthesiser, too much lyrical vagueness, not enough bite. They went away and thought about things for a while. Rumour has it that Lifeson almost left because he felt his guitar contribution was becoming marginal - just like The Edge almost left U2 circa "Pop". Then, just as U2 came back with "All That You Can't Leave Behind", Rush returned to guitar-driven rock music with this album - and what a blinder they played!
This record is awash with great rock songs - Distant Early Warning, Kid Gloves, The Body Electric - but its core is two songs in a row on side 1. One, Red Sector A, is a futuristic song about a death camp, the closest Rush have ever come to discussing what happened to some of Lee and Lifeson's family in Nazi Germany. The other, The Enemy Within, is a defiant call-to-arms: each individual must make their own destiny, not "give in to security under pressure". Consecutively, these songs tell each and every one of us to live for now and make the future - not to forget the past, but not to let it cripple us either. This is where Rush achieve their clearest statement of a philosophy which has been their core message all along.
On one perfectly valid level, this is "just" a great rock album. On another, this is a rich and valid statement of how to live your life, whatever happens.