After yesterday’s expedition into Roll The Bones, there were a few comments from people waiting for me to get to this next album in the discography. Coming two years after RTB (and Rush’s 15th album, for those keeping track), what we have is a rather different album.
Animate is one helluva album opener (and a single). I was going to write that it achieves liftoff very quickly, but I don’t even think it ever touched the ground. I don’t hear much synths in this one, mainly just the three piece and it rocks like crazy. Even when it slows a bit and becomes this thoughtful section, it still rules. I loved this song.
Stick It Out starts out with a bit of menace and then becomes this crashing, stomping thing that is really pleasing. As soon as we hit the chorus I realized that I knew this song! This was a single (hell, it hit #1 in the US), it was on the radio. Man, I didn’t catch it right away but I totally knew this song all along. Yes. This is a great one!
Cut To The Chase starts out a bit more lightly, but promises much more. And then BAM! it hits. There is so much to love here, the whole thing is so atmospheric. And Lifeson’s solo! Yes! Holy hell, this is three songs in a row that rock like hell. I’m really going to love this album, arent I. Yes, I believe I am. Because next we’re into the reason I bought this album first of their 1990s releases.
Nobody’s Hero. We all know this song, from its acoustic intro through to it’s strong body, we’re told two wrenching stories. The first story is about one of Peart’s friends’ death of AIDS. The second is of a girl killed in Peart’s hometown. Many believe it was Kristen French, one of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka’s victims. Like I said, very dark stuff. But this song… I can’t get it out of my head. Every piece of it fits, and I think what keeps it from falling off into despair are the strings (arranged and conducted by Michael Kamen). It’s the lift we need. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this song, always did, even way back in the day. One of my favourite Rush songs. Ever.
Between Sun & Moon is another great rock song on an album that seems to be full of them. Maybe it’s just the year this was released (and Wiki tells me this one was #2 behind only Pearl Jam’s vs.), but I could totally hear Eddie Vedder singing this one. It soars like a Pearl Jam song. Is that blasphemy? I can deal with that, it’s just what I hear, and I’m no expert. And whatever, it’s not a bad thing. At all. This is a great tune with some really great musicianship throughout… which seems redundant to say, when talking about this band, isn’t it.
Alien Shore zips along with a slinky feel and then crashes into another huge rock song. Dammit, this record is kicking my ass and I’m only just past halfway through. This is the Rush I think maybe we were missing in the synth years. Not that they weren’t writing brilliant tunes then (they absolutely were) but it’s nice to hear them just rock the fuck out again. Hell yeah. This one would have sounded great live, if they ever played it.
The Speed Of Love is an excellent mid-tempo rocker with a real feel to it. It breaks down during the verses, then lifts up to a sort of clarity in the choruses.. does that even make sense? It’s just in the way the instruments hit together, it feels open, almost sparse but also not. It all works, it holds together as only Rush can do it. Very cool.
Double Agent was another single, and it starts out well enough, but then it just starts rocking the hell out and it’s awesome… except there’s that talking bit again. Sigh. Shades of Roll The Bones. That sort of thing isn’t working for me, the only blemish on a (so far) perfect record. And this song is so strong otherwise.
Leave That Thing Alone is quite a funky instrumental workout. I liked it!
Cold Fire was also a single (from an album that seems chock full of them), and it’s a great mid-tempo pop rocker with heavier chorus parts. This is another one that definitely achieves liftoff.
And last finally we have Everyday Glory, which zaps us right back into the 80s. It’s like Rush playing an early-days U2 song. It’s disorienting, especially after the last ten tracks. It feels a bit like it’s a left-over from Roll The Bones that’s been tacked onto the end. The chorus saves it a bit, and that guitar solo is bloody huge, but still, it’s a bit of a weird way to go out. It’s not a bad song, still.
Wow. Just wow. Almost all of this record knocked me backwards. Brilliant.