Album number nine and here are eight songs. As any Rush aficionado knows, this was the last they made with producer Terry Brown. It’s the last of an era too, before they embarked on a synth-heavy voyage through the 80s that ended with Presto. Synths are prominent here, but traces of the short and sharp hard rock they introduced on Permanent Waves remain.

Like nearly every record of theirs, this one probably won’t seize your fancy upon first listen. It took me a while to warm to it, and I since have obviously. I’d rate it as one of their better records, definitely better than the ones either side of it, Moving Pictures and Grace Under Pressure.

But, it’s not without an issue. I state “issue” in the singular, but it’s big enough that it’s almost a show-stopper. Alex Lifeson’s guitar is way back in the mix. I mean way back. Even on tracks that call for a churning, rocking guitar like The Analog Kid and New World Man, it’s so far back it almost ruins the song. About the only track where it’s at the fore is The Weapon. And to be perfectly frank, the live version they did for the Grace Under Pressure tour is so much better.

Buried guitar or not, the eight tracks on this record are wonderful. The Weapon is the standout, and album closer Countdown comes close. I’d like to say there’s not a weak track, but I’d argue that Subdivisions and Chemistry falter a little.

signalsBut not by much.