Now that it’s cool to like Rush again the band returns with a concept album that is sure to send all the bandwagoners running back to their Rolling Stone pimped, one-two punching 4/4 time pop bands.
Clockwork Angels is about as Rush as you can get. It’s a much easier virgin listen then Snakes & Arrows ever was (when I first heard that album I threw my head phones off in frustration at one point. But with patience I learned what a fine record it was) though I am sure hearing 25 percent of the album prior to its release (June 12) probably helped.
Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart certainly chart new territories yet elements from a number of their albums as far back as the 70’s and even Lee’s solo effort My Favorite Headache and Lifeson’s Victor are clearly heard on Clockwork Angels. Peart indicated some of it was intentional but if not for Lifeson’s comments that the band has no intention to retire one might think Rush has encapsulated a four decade career into a final release.
Both “The Anarchist” and “Seven Cities of Gold” have strong guitar work and bass rythms and “Headlong Flight,” which has been available for a month or so, is one of the more harder-edged songs. There is not much to fault the album with though “BU2B2” is more or less a throw away but it likely has it’s place with the album’s concept. The opening to “Carnies” is way to similar to “BU2B” but once the thrashing drums and guitar end it stands on its own.
Both “Caravan” and “BU2B,” released in 2010 as a preview and precursor to the Time Machine tour, have been remixed though there is little if any variation from the originals. The title track starts out hard but winds back a bit and then deviates between pulsating hard rock and a slowed tempo that tends to interrupt the flow of the song initially but after a few listens it all integrates together in typical Rush fashion.
Clockwork Angels definitely requires a number of spins before the hooks, melodies and beats can be ingested thanks to the array of time changes but Peart’s drumming is crisp and vigorous, Lifeson’s guitar work is absorbing and melodious, and Lee’s bass pulsates with life and his voice is strong and cutting. In fact, when Lee sings in a lower octave as he does on “The Wreckers” and “The Garden” he is as emotionally reflective as any top 40 ballad but without the sappiness and unassertive accompanying music.
Clockwork Angels is ripe for a live performance and whatever the band dreams up for the tour this fall is likely to be as inventive, innovative and refreshing as this album.
Grade: A –
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not upon your own understanding
– Proverbs 3:5