Snakes and Arrows

I am going to either piss off people with this post, or get a lot of sympathy. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple: I’m having a tough time liking the new CD by Rush. I’ve written about my love for this group on this blog, so it’s no secret that I’m a fan of their music. However, on their latest CD, Snakes and Arrows, Rush has created thirteen songs that often sound aimless, but are peppered with really wonderful musical ideas that never really came together to create wonderful songs.

The lead single (and track) off the CD is “Far Cry” which starts out with a nod to their Hemispheres album – only updated with a more frantic feel. The song is certainly a rocker and signals that Rush is coming out of the gate swinging. But I think the song really shines in the chorus (Listen HERE) with lyrics that I think most can relate to. It took me quite a few listens to “Far Cry” before I really started to like it, and I was hoping it would be the same for the other songs on the CD. But… I’m not completely feeling it.

The exceptions to my “I’m All Out of Love” moments are the instrumentals on this CD. Rush usually has an instrumental on their albums, but Snakes and Arrows sports three of varying styles. “The Main Monkey Business” crunches and churns through most of the jam and then settles into a soft landing (Listen HERE).

“The Way the Wind Blows” (Listen HERE) is one of Rush’s most political songs to date with Peart signaling his disgust with the rise of fundamentalism, but the music sounds an awful lot like the jam on “The Main Monkey Business” and “Double Agent” from their CD Counterparts.

We can only go the way the wind blows
We can only bow to the here and now
Or be broken down blow by blow

Now it’s come to this
Hollow speeches of mass deception
From the Middle East to the Middle West
Like crusaders in a holy alliance

 

Now it’s come to this
Like we’re back in the dark ages
From the Middle East to the Middle West
It’s a plague that resists our science

 

It seems to leave them partly blind
And they leave no child behind
While evil spirits haunt their sleep
While shepherds bless and count their sheep

“Bravest Face” has its moments, but where the song shines is in Alex Lifeson’s bluesy guitar playing during the bridge (Listen HERE). I’ve been listening to this band’s music for a couple of decades and I don’t think I’ve ever heard Alex play in such a relaxed manner. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that kind of lead break from him but, alas, it was all too short.

I think that’s part of the problem with this CD. There are surprises along the way, but they come in very small doses. Also, another problem is that Geddy Lee wasn’t able to take Peart’s lyrics and craft the kind of catchy melodies he has been able to in the past. Lee sings with earnestness (sometimes a little too much) but that’s not enough to convey the lyrical content of the songs – some of which have the style of bumper sticker slogans that made me cringe at times.

You have to know that it pains me to have so little praise for this CD. I really want to like it, but Snakes and Arrows has an overall coldness that prevents me from fully embracing it.

Rating: Fair

–PK

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