Sound — 9
1982 was a difficult time for Rush. The multi-platinum Moving Pictures was released the year before and brought the band all sorts of commercial praise. The band finally had gotten the recognition they deserved but only pefore dropping the bomb on producers/management that they wanted to explore new musical callings and stray away from their progressive past. This fueled extreme tensions between the band and their personnel and resulted in the departure of long time manager and executive Terry Brown. These events foreshadowed what was to be possibly one of the greatest transition albums of all time, Signals. Signals is definitely a curve ball when you're perusing the Rush discography, for it marked a far more prevalent use of electronic instrumentation. This album sees the use of sequencers, keyboards, synthesizers, and a smattering of other guitar effects that pushed Rush directly into the 80s. Less emphasis was placed on bass guitar and drums in this album and was more focussed on synthy, uplifting melodies and the flexibilty of Alex Lifeson's guitar playing. The album also features more of his solos, which was a treat to the listening ears. I think it's somewhat ironic that the band was trying to push away from their progressive past and give their fans a different piece of themselves, and, by doing so, created one of the best progressive rock albums of all time. To sum it up quickly and accurately, the Signals's musicianship is stellar, the electronics are used tastefully, and the lyrics are rich in meaning without rooting themselves deep in complexity. The experimentation is prevalent and the song's lengths are cut in half from most of Rush's previous work. A solid, basic, rocking Rush listen. Definitely a delight to the ears.
Lyrics — 8
Signals is actually the last Rush album in which Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson contributed lyrics, and, seeing as "Chemistry" is the weakest song on the album (lyrically), it was a good thing they did. As stated above, Peart's lyrics are not even close to the deep conceptual nature of his previous offerings. He writes about random things on this record. "Losing It" is Peart's ode to Ernest Hemingway, in which he chronicles his latter years. "Countdown" is about the Columbia space shuttle (which has since crashed). Rush had the experience of watching its shuttle take off and it really moved Peart. As you can see, it's definitely not the deepest of Peart lyrics, but this album was more or less about Rush re-discovering themselves, to they're admissible.
Overall Impression — 8
An amazing transition record. Rush successfully took all of the doubt and criticism that they faced and in the process created something beautiful during a period of confusion. On the grand spectrum, this album charted high and reached platinum, continuing on the astounding Rush legacy. If you're ever out, pick up this album. It will show you a different side of music.