Review Summary: Keyboards and synths are put to more work in Rush's work to create a very nice album.
Geddy Lee: Bass
Alex Lifeson: Guitar
Neil Peart: Drums
Before there was “Signals”, there was not too much synthesizer and keyboards used in the work of Rush. “Signals” is an album where Geddy Lee's keyboards/synths are very dominant, and exist in a lot of the work here. Almost every song also includes a fantastic display of skill put up by Alex Lifeson in the form of a guitar solo. It truly is a great album by them (but not as good as “Moving Pictures”), and I am honored to be writing the first review for it.
The record kicks off with “Subdivisions”, one of the more popular songs off of the album. It opens with the purr of Geddy’s keyboards and builds up as Neil’s drums kick in and Geddy opens up. Alex doesn’t really seem to show much in this song (except in the chorus, and an OK solo), which was kind of a turn off for me. This is a very well written song from the album, and one of its best. 4/5
Following “Subdivisions”, there comes “The Analog Kid”. Alex definitely compensates for his dormant actions in the previous track. And that is quite an obvious fact as soon as the song starts! It kicks in immediately, with a wonderful riff by Alex over one of Neil’s beats. It is definitely one of the most energetic songs off of the album. The lyrics seemed quite well written. After the verse, Geddy’s keyboards take us away to some place that a lot of Rush’s work takes us with a beautiful chorus. Then it jumps back into the fast-played riffing and verse. Alex gives us a wonderful show of his skills in his solo here. Then the song exits in a light manner. 4.5/5
Next on the album’s lineup, we have “Chemistry”. Now in the intro it’s Geddy’s turn to show off. It opens with a nicely arranged chord progression over a fantastic display of Geddy’s skill with his keyboards. Quite energetic verses in here play along with Geddy’s fantastic writing. The choruses are also very light and slightly soothing, almost like in “The Analog Kid”. And before the song leaves, Alex plays a spectacular solo with screaming tones that just make it. 4/5
After “Chemistry”, we have “Digital Man”. It comes out quickly, with Neil’s rolls over Geddy’s baseline and Alex’s guitars. A slightly reggae-ish part comes in about one and a half minute in. Then it goes back to the energy of the verses. During the chorus, Neil puts on a fantastic display of his drumming skills. Then the song lightens up slightly as Alex begins to build up guitars and starts soloing, which is fantastic. The song then closes as it fades out. Another great song off of the album. 4.5/5
Following up to “Digital Man”, we have “The Weapon”. The track opens up in a cross fade, building up slowly, with Neil doing some nice high hat work, a fantastic keyboard riff, and a guitar riff that brands itself in my brain. The lyrics are very well written (The first line is a quote by Franklin Roosevelt). The chorus is greeted with great rolls by Neil, and more of Geddy’s fantastic keyboard playing that lasts throughout the song. The synthesizers at the end of the chorus truly are breathtaking. Alex plays an amazing solo during the bridge as it leads to the soft closing of the song. This is definitely my favorite song off of the album. 5/5
Next we have the shortest song off of the album, “New World Man”. It is the shortest song off of the album, and definitely is the stand out track of the record. It is a very soft song, with kind of a reggae-ish verse, like in “Digital Man”. The choruses are very energetic, and sound great. Compared to most songs by Rush, it is pretty quick. The short length of the song does leave something to be desired. 3.75/5
The penultimate track of the album, “Losing It”, begins with another keyboard riff that sounds fantastic. After all, “Signals” is the most “synthiest” Rush album in my opinion. The song builds up, and creates a sort of depressing feeling. The light, almost haunting musicianship during the verses definitely gets you. The solo by Alex has a lot of echo effects to it and adds to the feeling of the track. The guitars toward the end create the same mood expressed throughout the track. 4.5/5
The final track, “Countdown”, seems to begin a lot like the first track, “Subdivisions”. The same purrs of the keyboards in intro almost match completely to the beginning of the album. It builds up with Neil’s snare drum and Alex’s guitar playing along with sounds of aircrafts and transmissions that sound as if they were taken from an airport. The lyrics match with the energy of the musicianship. The keyboards that drive the song after the first chorus are phenomenal. The keyboard solo also fits very well with the song. 4.5/5
So to wrap it up, “Signals”, by Rush, comes out to be a very solid album that entertains the listener, as all music should. It takes a lot of the band’s aspects to the maximum, like interesting sound effects being used for example (“The Weapon”, “Countdown”). As I said in the beginning of the review, this is the album where Rush starts to use more of Geddy’s synthesizer/keyboard playing in their music. This is very dominant in basically every song off of this album. After averaging all of the track’s ratings together, I think that the best rating for this album is a 4.5/5. Not just perfect, but it got pretty close.