Ohhhh What a RUSH! The Rush Discography Project: “Power Windows” (1985)

July 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Rush - Power Windows

The advantage of the intricate instrumentation and the really over the top synthesizer-based production is that it really distracts from some awful songwriting. Or at least lyrics. Now, that’s not saying a whole lot for Rush – who obviously I have lots of gripes with when it comes to lyrics, but you know – here’s what I’ve realized, I think. I like their ridiculous lyrics, I do. But I want them to just stay in the fantastical realm. I don’t need allegories, I don’t need metaphors, I don’t need politics and the philosophy of man and beast.

You listen to a song like “Manhattan Project” and you’re like “ok, yeah, this is pretty catchy”, but you delve into the lyrics are there is no way you can help but just shake your head. Obviously, it’s about the atomic bomb, but it’s so simplistic, and not just that – that could work, but it is just a summary of the actual building (yeah right) of the premier weapon of mass destruction. No metaphor, that’s good – but the whole “imagine” bit of the song, when all of these things actually happened, it’s just like…I don’t know, middle school poetry.

But then you follow it up with a song like “Marathon” which is probably all entirely metaphorical and is like basically the worst of the 1980’s pop-rock schlock, and yet it’s just entirely fun. It doesn’t seem like it takes itself that seriously, probably because of the hilarious sound effects and the really built-up, anthemic chorus. It’s the template of Journey and all the bands of their ilk – almost flashes of Iron Maiden as well. It could be about an actual race, it could be about Peart and his infamous and ever-present motorcycle journeys, it could be about life, I don’t even care. The song sounds like millions of magical crystals just smashing together into symphonic harmony and I love it so.

“Middletown Dreams” does absolutely nothing for me. Despite even more keyboard sounds that could probably be labeled as “crystal” or something else absurd, the song has no emotional value, no pop aesthetic, it just kind of sits there as a 1980s song that could potentially be considered hard rock or progressive rock or something else, it’s really one of the weaker songs I can recall in the Rush discography, precisely because there is just nothing to it.

And then we close with “Mystic Rhythms”, which alternates pretty consistently between amazing and awful. Pretty much any time a progressive rock band has the word “mystic” in a song, I’m going to like it – I’m a pretty big fan of that type of thing. But this is a simple song lyrically, but that word “mystic” man, makes it seem so much more important than it really is. Like it carries some weight. And the combination of “african” drums and more modern sounds – I mean this could be a Duran Duran song essentially (in production), but it never quite gets there. I can see why a lot of people like this song, why it was a single and I could definitely envision myself in 1985 really digging this track. As it is now, it’s one of the better tracks on this album, but still not quite as special as something like “Marathon” or even “The Big Money” – though it does remind me of waterfalls.

So is it an awful album? No, but it has a couple of awful songs and really no super great songs. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point of actually reviewing this album, and now that I finally have – I can’t say it was worth the wait of going through with it. It’s just well, mediocre. Another one of those in the Rush discography.

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