New Release (Roadrunner)
Given the long buildup to this album (nearly two years in the works, with the advance “Caravan/BU2B” single appearing in September 2010) it was practically obliged to be a first-rate Rush disc — and it is. But it doesn’t really mark a new direction for the band: Ever since they largely dropped the keyboards after 1987’s Hold Your Fire, Rush albums have featured a mix of prog-rock complexity, power-trio guitar rock, and pop melody. This one’s no exception, but the material benefits greatly from the time spent; it’s wildly energetic and ridiculously complex at once. As a lyricist Peart has emerged from his dark period (the two closing songs make for Rush’s most uplifting finale yet). The title track pulls an epic’s worth of theme-and-variation before the vocal even enters (and do I hear the main riff of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” being quoted?); the main song finds Geddy Lee delivering a majestic chorus while Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart pound hell out of a fractured Bo Diddley riff; an out-of-nowhere Eastern guitar solo somehow fits perfectly. And did I mention it was catchy as hell?
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