Rush: Signals

This week's album choice was Rush's 1982 album "Signals". For some this marks Rush's "synth" period, though I feel like that started way earlier with "A Farewell to Kings". There are definitely a lot of synthesizers in this album, and I'm sure that this album is more polarizing than most as a result.

I remember picking this album on cassette at a gas station prior to heading on a bus trip for a "prospective students weekend" at Hope College. For me this album is inextricably linked with that weekend. Unfortunately the equalization of that cassette was terrible. This also began the era where Rush albums really embraced digital recording and all of the benefits and warts therein. Let's just say the CD sounds much better (especially the CDs prior to the whole "Remastered" batch.

The album begins with "Subdivisions", which became a bit of an anthem for the disaffected youth of my generation (though I was coming to it at the end of high school so it wasn't quite as anthemic as it could have been). "The Analog Kid" is a semi-autobiographical account of Neil looking at the sky and wanting to move on with life as a young boy. "Chemistry" is about, well, chemical reactions and how they affect us. "Digital Man" is quite the opposite of "The Analog Kid" (and way before our age of constant connection). "The Weapon (Part II of Fear)" is a particularly interesting and fun track for me. The drum part is challenging in itself, and that's before you get to Neil doing stick-flips while playing it live. "New World Man" was the last song composed for this album but it's by no means a left-over track. Definitely has some punch to it. "Losing It" is one that I know a lot of friends are feeling really strongly; the idea of watching youth from the rear-view mirror and finding old-age making more and more things difficult. "Countdown" is Rush's tribute to watching the Columbia Space Shuttle take off. It's one of the few times I think Rush has actually used samples in their work. In this case it was clips from the shuttle launch.

Signals is an important album for me and one that I listen to semi-often. There's a lot of great drum work on the album and the synths have enough of that 1980s charm that teleports me back to an era where a Moog could make me swoon.