REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/21/2010
Rush spent the early part of the ‘90s extracting themselves from the avalanche of synthesizers they had buried themselves under during the ‘80s. 1991's Roll The Bones started the trend back to a more guitar-oriented sound, and this, their 15th studio album, Counterparts, furthers that trend with towards hard-edged melodic rock. Not that they would abandon the keys entirely; that would take another decade. What they did do was herald a sort of resurgence of the band’s core sound, rediscovering their heavier roots. Further releases would solidify that pattern.
The first three tracks off the album, “Animate,” “Stick It Out,” and “Cut To The Chase” are all hard rockers. Bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson churn out some tasty, bombastic riffs and a level of energy that was only hinted at on Roll The Bones. “Stick It Out” is arguably the heaviest track they'd cut since “Tom Sawyer.” It feels like they wanted to make a point about going back to a more guitar-centric sound. It feels damn good too.
The strong melodic sense that they nurtured during the '80s is not lost at all. The central portion of the release features two very diverse tracks that have become huge fan favorites. “Between Sun & Moon” is one of their most unusual cuts to date. Drummer and principal lyricist Neal Peart is an author in his spare time, and he has often drawn influence from modern poetry and art. This song was influenced by a poem, which was inspired by a painting, and the lyrical expression is quite elegant and enigmatic:
“There is a fine line between love and illusion
A fine place to penetrate
The gap between actor and act
The lens between wishes and fact.”
Accompanied by tasty sort of funk-metal groove and some of Peart's best drumming on the disc, “Between Sun & Moon” quickly became my favorite song on the disc. Fans made such a fuss about the song over the years that the group dusted it off for their 30th anniversary tour .
Peart pens one of his most personal tracks with the albums standout track, “Nobody's Hero,” a largely acoustic track about the impact of ordinary people in our lives: “As the years went by, we drifted apart / When I heard that you were gone, I felt a shadow cross my heart.” I think few of us could listen to “Nobody's Hero” without feeling the loss of someone important from own lives. Peart has a way of connecting with his listener in a very visceral way. His theme for this album seems to be love and relationships. As time goes on, he has become more personal in his lyrics, but he still manages to express himself outwardly as an everyman, allowing the listener to put themselves into the song.
Counterparts was a bit of a sleeper, despite some decent airplay for “Animate” and "Stick It Out.” It has, however, established a high degree of popularity among the Rush fan base. I was engaged from the beginning by the heavier arrangements and the lack of keyboards – not to mention great songs from beginning to end, with the exception of the rather bizarre track “Double Agent,” which features some amazing bass work by Lee but loses me with the “speak-sing” vocal style that I hope Geddy retires forever. That one sour track is easily overshadowed by another one of their many amazing instrumental cuts, “Leave That Thing Alone” and the anthemic closer “Everyday Hero.” All in all, this is another great release from the boys from Canada.
|By far my favorite Rush album since Signals. I think "Double Agent" is one of the best songs on it. “Leave That Thing Alone” is one of their better instrumentals.|
|This was my fave since Moving Pictures at the time it came out, largely because I was so disappointed in the previous two albums. Double Agent is awful, never could stand it. A shame because it's solid musically, they just failed badly on the lyrics/vocals. Nice that someone likes it :-)|