Sprawling, dense and timeless, Signals remains as an absolute Rush classic. It is, for me, one of the most interesting and unusual albums that they ever recorded. Controversial upon release with its radical change in sound and direction, it is strong on synthesizer focus, yet nonetheless it features some of Alex Lifeson's very best guitar work; The Analog Kid, Chemistry and Digital Man shine with emotion and technical brilliance, especially during the solo sections, they also have me scratching my head every time I hear "the guitar really took a back seat on Signals..." Subdivisions, The Weapon and Losing It show Lifeson as an extraordinarily innovative, original and experimental guitarist.
The lyrics, in places, are almost abstract and I often wish Rush (or rather drummer Neil Peart) had pursued this avenue of writing further as it enables the listener to interpret the imagery of the words on a more personal, intellectual level. Chemistry (one of those rare and fascinating ocassions where all three band members shared lyrical input) and Digital Man are possibly the best examples of this 'abstract' writing style.
As one would expect, the music is truly progressive. Rush blended elements of reggae and electronics into heavily technical rock whilst still retaining their own identity. This simply illustrated just how singulary unique and individual a band they were at that time and arguably still are. The Weapon still remains as one of the most powerful, dark and complex compositions they ever recorded. Losing It displayed a softly melancholic side to Rush, a song which builds and builds with dazzling musical complexities that are almost jazz-like in terms of the fusion of instrumentation and time changes.
Subdivisions, with its almost scientific, musical precision, remains infused with a million memories of the isolation and loneliness of feeling like such an outsider during high-school years, of 'lighted streets on quiet nights' and being aware that you were in fact not alone, because there were bands like Rush with people who felt just the same as you and somehow, magically, knew how to paint those almost unbearable feelings into moving pictures of music and words.
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